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May 6, 2010

Translate Text Using Google Goggles

Google Goggles 1.1 for Android added another feature that makes visual search more useful: translating text. For now, the application detects text in the following languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and is able to translate the text to all the languages supported by Google Translate.

"Traveling to another country can be an amazing experience. The opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture can give you a new perspective. However, it can be hard to fully enjoy the experience if you do not understand the local language. For example, ordering food from a menu you can not read can be an adventure," explains Google's mobile blog.

Google says that it's a good idea to point your phone at the phrase you want to translate and select the region that includes the text to improve detection.

I tested the feature by trying to translate phrases from a French magazine (Science & Vie Junior), but the results weren't great all the time. Here's one of the best results:

(screenshots taken using ShootMe on a Nexus One)

To install Google Goggles, you need a phone that runs Android 1.6+. Search for Goggles in the Android Market or open the barcode scanner and scan this QR code.


  1. Ouch. I just tried copying a text from a web page and the OCR recognized less than 10% of the words. I'm not familiar with OCR architecture but this needs some work. Maybe you can leverage the Google cache of websites to improve OCR of published text to guesstimate what I'm actually looking at.

  2. The problem is simply that the translation is wrong:

    Blaise Pascal (misspelt in the transcript) is his brother-IN-LAW. And quick silver stabilizes LOWER THAN in the valley... meaining at a lower temperature.

    At this rate, Google translation risks to become the next edition of babel rather than babelfish...


  3. ...and I thot Google was just waxing poetic...
    I have used the translation feature of Chrome. Frankly, it sucks.
    I can do better translating French or Italian - and I don't speak either.

  4. I was very excited to read this, as I'm going on a trip to Paris, Florence and Rome next week. But then I realised: it requires a connection to the net to work! My US Nexus One won't work over there! So I guess this feature is pretty much useless in this regard. But still cool.

  5. Awesome, but not useful as I expect.