May, 06 2010

One of my absolute favorite apps for Android is Google Goggles, but in my experience it has had limited real-world use. This may be because my brain is not wired to rely on visual search, or it could be due to lack of functionality in every day situations. If it had anything to do with the latter, Google has upped the ante by adding translation in the latest release of Goggles.

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To use translation is simple: use the new “region of interest” box to highlight the area of text you want translated, snap the picture, and if Goggles recognizes the text it will give you the option to translate. Select the source and destination languages, and enjoy your new freedom from the binds of language barriers. Currently Goggles supports English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish as source languages.

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Along with translation support, Google Goggles v1.1 improves on the overall usefullness of the app. Barcode regognition is improved, there is a larger database of artwork, products, and logos, and the interface is tweaked. One of the other cool features added is the ability to perform a visual search with a photo already existing in your phone’s gallery.

Goggles is now one version closer to being less of a neat tech demo and more of a useful every day tool. I’m waiting for the day when I can truly perform any search I need just by snapping a picture, something that should be quite intuitive with today’s smartphones. The translation function actually works quite well, so for those who may be traveling or anyone who can’t seem to find the English instruction sheet for putting together that new lawnmower or bed — or whatever it is you need put together — this could actually come in very handy.

[via Google Mobile Blog]