Google Translate Uses Word Lens’ Tech to Bridge Languages


Traveling abroad to countries where you don’t speak the language just got easier thanks to the Google Translate app, which instantly translates written text via smartphone.

The technology used to complete this task was acquired from Word Lens, which allows users to point their smartphone’s camera at text and have it translated it into a chosen language in real-time and with remarkable accuracy.

The app is equipped to translate up to 27 languages including English, Spanish, French, Romanian, German, Bulgarian, Italian, Russian, Catalan, Lithuanian, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Filipino, Hungarian, Portuguese, Indonesian, Norwegian, Czech, Polish, Slovak, Turkish, Swedish, and Ukrainian.

The app with all of the updated features is available on Android and iOS phones, writes Drew Olanoff for Tech Crunch.

The text translation feature is functional offline and Google has updated the speech-to-speech feature of the app to work well on a slow connection, since they noticed that users are often relying on the app in locations with less bandwidth, reports Ariha Setalvad for The Verge.

While the goal of the app is not to actually teach users a foreign language, it certainly can help in the process, according to Julie Cattiau, Product Manager for Google Translate.

“Translate is not a replacement for a language learning course; it’s not going to teach you a language from scratch or all of the intricacies involved in learning a language. But with that said, we do hear from a lot of students and individuals learning languages who use Google translate as an assistant. It can help by suggesting translations for unfamiliar words or even help with pronunciation via text-to-speech. And recently, based on user feedback, we launched a new feature that allows our users to listen to translated words more slowly.”

Another improvement for app was to make it more conversational. Previously, Google Translate would give users the literal translation of a phrase, which can sometimes not be the most accurate, reports Victoria Woollaston for the Daily Mail. Now the app is updated to recognize idoms, slang and colloquial terms. The company continues to expand its Translate Community and is reaching out to foreign speakers to help improve this function.

“People use Google Translate a lot – we translate over 100 billion words a day,” Aaron Babst, community program manager at Google Translate wrote, “However, in the past, our translation systems have generally been better at making sense of government and business documents than in helping people casually communicate.”

The app has helped people all over the world with extraordinary tasks.  According to Cattiau, a woman from Congo visited Ireland, and even though she could only speak Swahili she was able to help a woman deliver her baby thanks using Google Translate.