Google just turned your phone into a real-time translator

Google Translate
Never get baffled by a foreign street sign again!

Google has officially announced its overhaul of the Google Translate app, proudly proclaiming that it is now more powerful than ever.

The app is available for both Android and iOS devices and comes with a range of new features that are designed to make understanding and conversing in a foreign language easier than ever.

One feature of the app is Word Lens, which allows you to take a photo of some text and translate it into 36 languages – pretty handy if you find yourself staring blankly at a menu while on holiday.

This feature has now been updated to allow you instantly translate the text, with the new text being overlaid on your smartphone's screen, even if you don't have an internet connection.

The instant translate feature currently only works with translating English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Google is currently working on including more languages to the instant translate feature soon.

Google purchased the Word Lens app last year and although some might have feared that Google's acquisition would put an end to updates, especially on iOS devices, instead the technology has been included front and centre in the revamped Translate app.

Parlez vous Google?

The app will also be able to translate your speech into text in another language, allowing you to have multi-lingual conversations with people that feel more dynamic and natural.

As we reported earlier, these new features are certainly impressive, though they aren't quite as powerful as Skype's real-time translation service, which can translate into audio as well as text.

Now that the updates have been made official by Google they will be rolling out in the next few days. As Barak Turovsky, Product Lead of Google Translate, sates in a blog post, "today's updates take us one step closer to turning your phone into a universal translator and to a world where language is no longer a barrier to discovering information or connecting with each other."

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.