Google has rolled out a massive update to its Google Translate app for Android and iOS, which now offers a couple of cool new features that will translating foreign languages in real-time quicker and easier.
The update, which began rolling out on Wednesday, includes voice recognition for up to six languages. Now, Google Translate allows users to speak one language into their phone and have the app come up with the corresponding phrase or sentence in another language. Users simply have to tap the mic on the app and speak in their native language, and Google Translate will speak back in the other language.
For instance, if the user is translating from English into French, he simply has to tap the mic icon and say "I'm hungry." Google Translate takes a few moments to process the sentence and come back with "J'ai faim." The user then won't have to tap the mic if he wants to translate other sentences; the app will be able to recognize his voice and what language he speaks in.
At the same time, the app also automatically recognizes the voice input from the other user, so it can also translate the other person's sentences into the first language. Not all languages will be available with voice output, though. For instance, asking the app to translate the "I'm hungry" to Hebrew only comes back with the text translation and not the speech translation.
Google Translate product lead Barak Turovsky wrote about the updates in a blog post. He says the new Google Translate will be useful in facilitating more fluid conversations and promoting better communications between people of different languages.
"Asking directions to the Rive Gauche, ordering bacalhau in Lisbon, or chatting with your grandmother in her native Spanish just got a lot faster," Turovsky writes.
The second update is the addition of Word Lens capabilities to Google Translate. Last year's purchase of the visual translation startup now manifests itself as a full-blown feature in Google's own translation app. This new feature allows users to take a photo of text and receive an instant translation or it. Users only need to point their camera at the text and Google Translate will provide the text translation over the image.
"This instant translation currently works for translation from English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, and we're working to expand more languages," says Turovsky.
Word Lens for Google Translate works without Internet or data connection. Voice translation is also possible offline, but users will have to download separate language packs for it to work.
More than 500 million people around the world use Google Translate for a variety of purposes. Every day, Google Translate makes up to 1 billion translations.