Google has rolled out an expanded Google Goggles translation tool for Android devices using the image recognition technology of the service. The tool was originally introduced at the Mobile World Congress in February of this year in Barcelona. At the time only German could be recognized but with this roll out yesterday the service can now recognize English, French, Italian, German and Spanish and translate into many other languages. Google is currently working on expanding to more Latin-based languages and eventually aiming at other major languages like Chinese. It’s as simple as point, shoot and translate.
Google’s Mobile Blog tells us how it works and provides some pretty pictures as well.
Here’s how it works:
• Point your phone at a word or phrase. Use the region of interest button to draw a box around specific words
• Press the shutter button
• If Goggles recognizes the text, it will give you the option to translate
• Press the translate button to select the source and destination languages.
Pretty cool. The example given is as simple as being able to read a menu item by taking a picture of it and letting Google tell you whether it’s what you thought it was. Just think how many waitrons will no longer have to deal with the “ugly American” syndrome of the completely inconsiderate notion that we don’t know every language on the planet. World wide peace may be available after all.
There is more to this release of Google Goggles (say that three times fast, by the way, and you’ll sound like you should be put in a psych ward) as the blog tells us
Every new release of Google Goggles contains at least one new feature and a large number of improvements to our existing functionality. In addition to translation, Goggles v1.1 features improved barcode recognition, a larger corpus of artwork, recognition of many more products and logos, an improved user interface, and the ability to initiate visual searches using images in your phone’s photo gallery.
This service works on any Android device running 1.6 or higher. I have not researched whether there are similar iPhone apps. Do you know of any? While this may not be even a tiebreaker to choose Android over the iPhone I suspect there will be more and more Android only services rolled out over time. In my opinion, the platform that provides the most utility v. the most gadgets will ultimately win. Interest in games and “attention diverters” only lasts so long while providing something that truly improves the quality of life will win the day in this mobile battle of titans.
What’s your choice?