When Google bought Word Lens, an impressive language translation tool, last May, I wondered how and when the Google Translate app would take a big step forward. Now I know: It happened earlier today with an updated version of Translate for both Android and iOS.
The free app no longer requires you to snap a photo of text in a foreign language; it works like Word Lens used to, simply by pointing your camera at a sign, menu or other text. The translation then magically appears on your phone’s screen within the app. Even better, it works offline for seven languages: English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, according to Google.
The updated app also brings speed improvements when using voice translation. Tap the microphone button, speak your word, phrase, sentence or question and tap the mic a second time. Translate will repeat aloud your text in the language of your choosing and then continue listening for additional words so you can have a quicker conversation when on the road.