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Point your camera at text to get it translated with Google's live camera translation

Why it matters to you

The addition of Japanese makes for a total of 30 languages now available for live camera translation in Google Translate.

Not bilingual? Not a problem.

Thanks to Google’s live camera translation feature, all you have to do is point your phone’s camera at the text in question, wait a little bit, and then watch in awe as Google translates it for you on the spot. And now, Google Translate has added support for instant English to and from Japanese for this feature.

The internet giant made the update without much fanfare, and at the same time released a fix to address a sharing bug with Facebook Messenger. To start your translating journey, simply head on over to Google Translate on your mobile device, set your languages (either to or from Japanese, or any other language the feature supports), tap the camera icon, then tap the eye icon to download the latest offline translation pack (it’s 42MB).

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Given that it’s still a new feature, there are a few kinks to be aware of. After all, it is trying to translate in real time, which means that you’ll have to hold your phone still, or risk rather rough translations. Also, it looks as though Translate is having some trouble with handwritten text, though we can hope that these problems will be addressed as more and more people begin to use the new translation pack.

The addition of Japanese brings the number of languages compatible with Google Translate’s instant camera translation tool to 30, while a non-instant camera mode is now available for 37 languages. You can also actually draw characters rather than type them if you’re working with a foreign alphabet (and don’t want to download its language pack, or don’t know which language pack to download).

So go ahead, take that trip to that foreign country you’ve been avoiding because of a language barrier. Thanks to Google, those walls may be coming down.