Google Translate‘s Android update introduced using your phone’s camera to take snapshots of text and translate it into another language.
You need a data connection to use the app, because there’s no offline mode. Since this is a new feature, there are some quirks that appeared when I tried to use it. The first is the camera icon is not defaulted but rather locked to specific supported languages. Google Translate’s camera option also requires Android 2.3 Gingerbread and above.
Here’s how to use this new Google Translate feature.
After opening Google Translate, the language selection is listed as “Detect language.”
Google Translate’s camera translation only supports a small number of languages right now:
Google Translate will show support for the language by displaying a camera icon at the bottom right of your screen. Tap on the icon and it will access the camera and let you take a snapshot of an image. It’s important to take as crisp of a photo as possible, because the app can have difficulties reading the text if it is too blurry.
After taking a snapshot, highlight the text you want to translate with your finger. Be careful when selecting the text because Google Translate can get confused with partially highlighted text. If the text selection is good, Google Translate will process and produce the result.
It’s disappointing that a lot of the ideographic languages like Korean, Chinese, and Japanese aren’t supported yet, because many users might want them. But if this is the first step to including better translation in Google Translate, hopefully support for more languages will be added.
The last step would be to have offline translation available on Android devices. If Google offered the ability to download specific languages as well, that would be a great option for Android users.
Google Translate’s camera function is a great addition that will benefit users when more languages are supported.