Google Translate app updated to translate text from photos

Google’s translation app for Android has been updated to translate text from pictures taken with the device’s camera.

Users can take pictures of signs, books or any other legible text and then “brush” to highlight the portion they want to translated. The feature, compatible with the app’s previous ability to translate between 64 languages, can be extremely useful when traveling or when reading a foreign language book, assuming you have access to an internet connection.

At this time the translate from picture feature is compatible only with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and above. There’s no word on if and when the feature will appear on the iOS version of the app.

The update to version 2.5 also includes improvements to the speech and handwriting recognition features.

Inside Mobile Apps last year covered a similar app, Word Lens, which didn’t just translate text from photographs, but also used smartphones’ augmented reality capabilities to translate the text as it appears on the phone in real-time. According to App Data Word Lens is currently at the No. 115 spot in the Top Free Apps Travel Genre and the No. 4 spot in the Top Grossing Apps Travel Genre.

The Google Translate app is currently at the No. 42 spot on Google Play’s list of top free Android apps, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see its position improve significantly in time for our Android charts roundup next week.