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Google Translate camera makes it super easy to translate text from an image

Google translate app
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Since camera and AI technology have advanced so much, translating between languages has become a whole lot easier. Whereas once you would have to translate word for word and try and make sense of the right tense, these days all you need to do is take a photo using the Google Translate app and voilà, entire chunks of text can be translated into your language.

The other day I was flicking through my friend's copy of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and noticed the epigraph is written in French. Not only did I find it surprising as the rest of the book is in English, but I was also very curious as to what it meant. Despite studying the language for cinq ans (5 years), my ability to translate French to English is pretty nonexistent, I can pick out a few basic words like 'with' and 'good' but that's about it. Luckily for me, Google Translate made it super easy to decipher what it meant using the in-app camera to scan the text.

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Once upon a time, I would’ve had to type out the text word for word in a translator app, which not only is time-consuming but easy to input wrong. Now, these advancements in AI technology make it possible to translate entire pages of text in just a click of a button. 

It works with pretty much every language although only certain languages such as French and Spanish are pre-downloaded with the app. Other languages such as Bengali, Filipino, Arabic and even German will have to be downloaded before it can start translating them.

How to use Google Translate with the camera

There are multiple ways you can use the app, you can either enter the text manually, take a photo of what’s in front of you or import a photo from your camera roll. If you choose to take a photo or import one, the app will scan the text for words and enable you to select which ones you want to translate.

For anyone who’s ever been in a foreign country and struggled with a language barrier, the Google Translate App (opens in new tab) makes it incredibly easy to communicate even if neither of you speaks the same language. It uses a method of AI known as neural machine translation (NMT) which converts text in one language to another language without any human interaction. NMT systems have two main components, an encoder and a decoder and generally, NMTs are highly accurate, they learn quickly and are cost-efficient. 

If you're going on holiday anytime soon, it would be well worth downloading Google Translate before you go and making sure the country's language is also downloaded. That way should you find yourself in a sticky situation you might just be able to communicate your way out of it. Be sure to take the best travel camera (opens in new tab), too.

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Hannah Rooke
Hannah Rooke

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.