If you’ve ever studied a language or been to a non-English speaking country, Google Translate has probably saved your hide more than once. Since launching more than a decade ago, the language translation tool has evolved from a simple website that could only translate two languages via text input, to a smartphone app that can translate more than 100 languages via text, audio or image input.
And now we have come one step further. Google Translate can now translate Japanese characters to English (and vice-versa) in real time.
Admittedly, Google Translate could already translate text from a static photo, but the update means you can now get a LIVE translation of everything from street signs to menus, without filling up your memory with photos.
This feature is available via the Word Lens app integrated into both the iOS and Android versions of the Google Translate app. It really is as easy as opening the app, point at text to translate, and voila! Instantly translated Japanese text!
Although Japan is already quite accessible to non-Japanese speaking (or reading) tourists, going off the beaten path can quickly mean entering the “point and hope” stage of travel. Particularly, if you’ve got food intolerances or need to buy medicine, being able to instantly translate Japanese text is (almost literally) a lifesaver.
Word Lens can also currently translate text from 27 languages including English, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, , Turkish and Ukranian, as well as one-way translations of Hindi and Thai.