How cool would it be to simply hover your phone over some foreign text and have a translation immediately available to you, without even having to input the text or look for it? Well, today we’ll show you an app that can do just that, and even better, for free, just using the camera from your phone or tablet and without having to search for a dictionary or fiddle with settings. Come with us as we take a look!
Word Lens Translator is an app that will automatically translate text using your camera and putting labels with the translated text over it. It works quite nicely, and has recently been made free for all. The reason it was made free was because the maker of the app, Quest Visual, has been acquired by Google, and both their app and language packs have been made free because of it. It’s not hard to see why Google would be interested in this company and on this product, especially with Glass becoming an increasingly important product, but it’s certainly a nice app, even at this point. But how does it work? Let’s find out!
You can find World Lens for free by using this Play Store link. You might also want to go on the official website and get the Google Glass version if you prefer. Download and install the app, and once it’s installed, open it. Once it’s open, the app will tell you a few things, like the fact that it doesn’t require a network connection to use (awesome feature) and the kind of text it works best on. It’s good to follow these indications for the best possible results.
After that, you’ll get to the main app itself. It will start capturing video and then will ask you if it looks good. Make sure your video doesn’t appear rotated or glitchy and press “Looks Good”, otherwise pick “Needs Rotation”:
The app will then prompt you to select a language from the list. Previously, each of these language packs were in-app purchases, but now they are all immediately installed for free and you can use them right away:
Now that we have all that set up, we can finally start using the app. Just find some text in the language you selected and hover the device over it. The translation should immediately appear over the text, as seamless as possible:
However, there are a few things to watch out for. For instance, if you are getting poor results at first, try using the device in landscape mode. Also, try to keep the camera as steady as possible, and tap over the screen to focus on a particular section to make sure it appears sharp and the text can be translated. Another thing you should be aware of is that the app has a built in zoom option that zooms on particular sections and makes for a more accurate translation. Just tap the magnifying glass button and the app should show you a more zoomed-in section with a more accurate translation.
Apart from the visual translation element, which admittedly is the main appeal of the app, you can also access the app’s dictionary manually if you’re in a pinch. Just tap the notebook button and you’ll be able to search for words and get a translation in return, without having to use the camera itself:
Another cool feature is that, once the app has managed to translate the text using the camera, you can tap the pause button below and it will capture the screen, allowing you to also tap over each of the translations to see alternative meanings or seek words that look alike. You can also tap the share button while using this view and send the translated image directly to someone else using email or social media. Pretty nifty!
The app works pretty well with big, defined text using standard fonts. It’s a bit hit or miss with smaller text or big blocks of sentences, but it still works if you fiddle with it a bit. I imagine it could actually get a lot better in the future, as you can see that even right now, the app struggles a bit with focus and motion, and since camera software on Android is still far behind the competition in a lot of places, I could see a lot of improvements in the future under Google’s wing. Still, for a free app with such a cool concept, it’s already pretty great. Any questions or doubts? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below.