Goggles turns Android into pocket translator

May 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:


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