May 06 AT 1:08 PM Sean Riley 11 Comments

Google Goggles is now your multilingual translation companion

Google Goggles is a visual search app that Google released in December which allows you to take a picture of an object with your camera and it will attempt to recognize it.

It was a cool app to show people, but its real world utility was at least somewhat questionable. That changed at Mobile World Congress in February when Google showed off a prototype of translation running on Goggles which took German text and translated it into English (video below).

Today they have released a much improved version of that prototype to the public with Google Goggles 1.1. If you already have Goggles just head into the Market to update, otherwise the QR code is available in this post (Sorry 1.5 users this is strictly for 1.6 and up).

The app can now “read” English, French, Italian, German and Spanish and will translate those into a wide variety of languages. They are working to add additional Latin-based languages first with the goal of adding non-Latin languages at some point down the road.

I’ll let Google’s own words guide you on its functioning.

Here’s how it works:
  • Point your phone at a word or phrase. Use the region of interest button to draw a box around specific words
  • 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.

I played with it for a couple minutes and it definitely works well on small patches of text, but trying to grab a whole paragraph didn’t yield great results for me. My only other complaint from my limited use is that the select/crop tool which allows you to pinpoint the text you are interested in should be a little easier to shape and move as you wish. My first impression is that this would be fantastic for travelers confused by signage or menus and the like and of course as with most Google apps this is free which makes the decision to download much easier.

Having bumbled my way around France a couple years ago trying to use my Spanish to somehow will the words to make sense I think this is an awesome addition to Google Goggles and transforms it from an interesting novelty to a must download in my mind.

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Source: Google Mobile Blog

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • Killa

    That is freakin’ awesome! Google is #1! Eat it Apple!

  • gamefreak1218

    Figures….One week after I leave Montreal and all the time I’m saying to myself “man I wish I could just take a picture of this and have it translate” and then this comes out…when I can’t use it :P still cool though!

  • http://Website Feco

    Very nice, but no portugues this time.

  • http://Website Dan

    Really need this for Chinese, Korean and Armenian

    • Sean Riley

      Chinese and Korean were in their list for the first of the non-Latin languages to add, but they weren’t at all specific on when we might anticipate any new languages.

  • http://Website Bob S

    It does seem a little funny; I have a “Google Sprint Hero phone, and I cannot get this Google
    program on my Google phone..

    • http://Website B_Rush

      Just wait for your 2.1 update tomorrow.

      • http://Website Bob S

        I waited and it didnt occur…..
        Which tomorrow is korrect?
        L0L—Hope & Change…:)

  • stalker

    This is awesome.

  • http://Website HabeHandy

    The high roaming fees prevent the reasonable use