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Google Goggles Learns New Languages, Can Translate

When Google Goggles was officially released, it was an innovative app with basic novelty functionality. It was fun to show off to others without an Android phone, but not particularly useful on a daily basis. Today, the app was updated and is really pushing to be a resource you’ll come back to again and again.

Google Goggles now allows you to translate text simply by taking a picture.

Here’s how to use the newest feature (from Google itself):

  • Point your phone at a word or phrase, and use the region of interest button to draw a box around the words you’d like to translate.
  • Press the shutter button.
  • If Goggles recognizes the text, it will give you the option to translate.
  • Press the translate button to select the source and destination languages.

Currently, Goggles can only “read” English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. In addition to these languages, it can translate into Afrikaans, Albanian, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Galician, Icelandic, Irish, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Swedish.

Where I could definitely see this coming in handy is while on a trip to a foreign country. I know that while in Paris, I could have definitely used Goggles to help me out with those indecipherable signs and menus!

While using Goggles for a short time, I saw more success with short snippets of text rather than large paragraphs. Also, if the app recognized something in the text, it might return that as a search result instead of offering the option to translate. As it stands now, it definitely needs some optimization and fine tuning, but if you’re really in need, the basic functionality might save you.

Note: Google Goggles is still only available to Android 1.6+ phones.

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