Google has announced an update to its Translate app rolling out for both iOS and Android that adds support for over a dozen new languages to its instant visual translation tool. Combined with the seven languages when the feature was first introduced in January, Google Translate is now capable of interpreting visual text in 27 languages, along with translating speech from 32 languages. Thankfully, language packs can be downloaded individually within the apps, which also allows translations to work without an internet connection.
Among the languages now supported by instant visual translation are Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish, and Ukrainian. Hindi and Thai are also new, although only in one-way translations from English. These are all in addition to the existing French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
The real-time visual translation tool is called Word Lens, and lets users point their device at printed text such as signs and have the translated text appear on the screen almost immediately. This is the kind of feature that’s invaluable to travelers overseas, making the offline capability incredibly handy when there’s no cellular connection or when data speeds are at a crawl.
Speaking of slow connection speeds, the Google Translate app’s speech translation tool has also been updated to run faster and smoother when on a poor connection. Google says roughly 95% of its 100 billion daily translation requests are from outside the US, so this optimization is aimed at making a real difference in countries that don’t have advanced cell networks.