Google Translate's Camera Just Got Way Better

Google Translate is already a great tool in every traveler’s app arsenal. The service, originally launched in 2015, allows people to translate menus, signs, and even speech to text in seconds. And on Wednesday, Google announced the service’s instant camera translations are getting even better.

For those unfamiliar with the service, you can start by downloading the Google Translate app. The instant camera feature allows you to point your phone camera at foreign text and have it instantly translated into English.

a close up of a sign: Google

Now, in order to make this feature more useful to more global users, Google is increasing the supported languages. There are now 88 languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu, that can be translated into more than 100 languages. So instead of just being able to translate French or Arabic into English, travelers can now translate Belarusian into Igbo or Irish into Persian.

Google is also unveiling a new auto-detect feature, so you can select “Detect language” as the source language. The translate app will then automatically detect the language and translate to your chosen language.

“When traveling abroad, especially in a region with multiple languages, it could be challenging for people to determine the language of the text that they needed to translate,” Google said in a blog post. “We took care of that — in the new version of the app, you can just select ‘Detect language’ as the source language, and the Translate app will automatically detect the language and translate.”

Google is also introducing Neural Machine Translation within its instant camera translations. The technology was first implemented in the product in 2016, and will now allow for greater language translation accuracy and reduce translation mistakes by up to 85 percent from previous app iterations.

Google is rolling the new service out to 1 percent of users today, and to all users in the next few weeks.

So, before you head off on your next great adventure, make sure to download the app. (Available on iOS and Android.) This way you can safely order off the menu, get directions, and make new friends — with a little help from your phone.

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