Google Translate will now work with any text on your Android phone

Google’s witchcraft-based language tool Google Translate is very much an unsung hero amongst the search giant’s collection of apps. Being able to quickly translate whole web pages at the touch of a button is impressive enough on its own, but being able to do it via your watch, or even photography… witchcraft, as I said.

That’s all well and good for desktop computing or speech, but everybody knows that mobile phone screens are somewhat more fiddly – especially if you’re within an app at the time. Sure, you can copy some text, open a web browser and search for the phrase for a translation, but the chances are you’d opt for blissful ignorance. Google doesn’t want you to take the easy route any more.

YouTube video

“Tap to Translate” is a new feature that will appear any time you highlight some text in a foreign language. Where you used to just see copy and paste, you’ll now see a translate bubble, similar to the Facebook Messenger heads. Tap that, and Google Translate will offer its best guess at what was said in your native tongue. It runs in 103 languages on any phone that uses Jellybean or later, and should be happy to work in any app that allows you to highlight text, as this WhatsApp demo shows:TTT_DogfoodGif_v01_JRS.gif

On top of that, the latest update now offers offline mode in iOS and introduces photographic recognition for simplified and traditional Chinese. Which means you too can know that this suspicious package claims to contain milk:Milk_Chinese-English.gif

Google says these updates will be rolling out over the next few days.

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