Goggles turns Android into pocket translatorMay 6, 2010: 3:55 PM ET
The mobile application for Android got updated today with the ability to snap a picture of some words and instantly translate them into the language of the owner.
Google's Goggles mobile application has always been a fun tool. The idea is that if you snap a picture and upload it to Google (as well as your location/time), Google could present more about that object, and by extension, your surroundings. It isn't always terribly accurate in identifying what is in the picture, but the results are sometimes helpful, if not amusing.
Today, Goggles got a very specific use feature that will help travelers and readers of foreign language texts immensely. Now you can point your Android camera at a sign, book, or any sort of foreign word, snap a picture, and get a translation. Google uses optical character recognition, or OCR, to turn the image into words, and then uses its translation services to turn those words into a language you recognize. See the illustration below:
Google also announced other improvements today: "Goggles v1.1 also features improved barcode recognition, a larger corpus of artwork, recognition of many more products and logos, an improved user interface, and the ability to initiate visual searches using images in your phone's photo gallery."
Goggles 1.1 is available at the Android Market for devices running OS 1.6 and above. It isn't certain if Google will build out this application for other mobile operating systems.