Google Translate is getting an update, just like the rest of Google’s stock apps. If you have no interest in reading the rest of this report, you’ll be happy to know you can go grab the update on Google Play.
The big change in the latest update is support for offline language translation. Believe or not, this is a huge feature addition. If you end up needing to use Google Translate where there’s a signal blackout, you don’t have to worry a connection loss anymore. Of course, to use the translation services offline you’ll need to download language packs prior to having no active connection, so it requires some pre-planning on your part.
To reiterate, the new offline feature is remarkably similar to taking your Google Maps offline. You’ll need to download different language packs to your mobile device beforehand.
Offline translation support is compatible with devices running Android 2.3 or later. That being said, devices running Android 2.1 or later can still use the app, but the older versions won’t benefit from the offline translation features.
There are more than fifty different languages supported by Google Translate.
Obviously, the language packs are going to vary in size with more complex languages being heftier. I downloaded the Spanish offline language files on my device and it ended up being approximately 198MB in size.
To set up a language for use offline, the necessary steps are fairly straightforward. While inside the app, you just have to hit the dedicated settings button and choose “offline languages” from the menu. To download a language pack, you just select the small pin attached to the related language. The device will begin downloading the necessary files, which by default is set only to occur via an active Wi-Fi connection.
Google does say on the app page that offline language packs are less comprehensive than their online counterparts. I’m not quite sure what the difference is between the two models, but I doubt Google would lie about it. Having an active link probably just ensures the app is more accurate, or something.
The latest update also added the option to translate text using the camera on your phone or tablet; specifically text in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. I tried out the feature to translate an imported version of Frontier Gate Boost+ on my PSP, and it worked pretty well (check out the image below).