“Traveling––it leaves you speechless, then it turns you into a storyteller,” wrote ethnographer Ibn Battuta. Traveling can be incredibly rewarding but also challenging, in particular if you’re in a place with a language you don’t speak. With tools like Google Translate, you can explore a new place, navigate around, and connect with people in a different language with just a couple of taps. Starting today, discovering the world around you will become even easier as we’re adding Arabic, Thai, Vietnamese, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu to camera translations, rolling out to the Google Translate apps on Android and iOS over the coming days.
With camera translations, you can translate what you see. In the Google Translate app, just choose the languages you’d like to translate in between, say Hindi and English, and then tap on the camera icon to snap a photo of a sign, menu, or text in a foreign language. Once you’ve captured the photo, swipe over the parts of text you’d like to translate to see the translation at the top in blue. You can also do camera translations on photos you’ve previously taken. Just tap on the camera icon, and then upload images at the bottom left of the screen.
Camera translation is powered by machine learning. In fact, there are two steps involved that require AI working behind the scenes. First, the app recognizes the letters and characters on the image using optical character recognition, a machine learning system that converts letters on an image into data. Once the text is captured, our neural machine translation system then translates this text into a natural sounding sentence or phrase in the desired language.
With today’s update, camera translation in the Google Translate app is now available in 50 languages –– both on Android and iOS. We hope that this update together with features like conversational translate, tap-to-translate, and Word Lens will make it easier to navigate around for those traveling abroad. Safe travels!