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Google Translate Gets Major Update, Includes Handwriting Support for Additional Languages

November 20, 2013 - Written By Eric Abent

Globetrotters of the world take note, because the big G has pushed a pretty massive update for Google Translate on Android. Google Translate was already a vastly handy app for people traveling to foreign countries where they may not know the language, but with this update, it’s getting noticeably better. For starters, Google has streamlined speech translation in an attempt to make it easier to have a conversation with someone speaking an entirely different language.

Now, all you need you do to get speech translation up and running is simply open the app and press the microphone button. From there, you can use the shiny new gesture controls to tilt the phone sideways, thereby switching between the languages being used. Who needs to go through the enriching and beneficial – though admittedly tough as nails – process of learning a new language when you’ve got a phone capable of running Google Translate in your pocket? We kid of course, since learning another language has many benefits that outweigh the time commitment, but still, if you’re off to another country briefly for business or as a vacation, we imagine Google Translate could be an invaluable tool.

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Speech translation isn’t the only aspect of Google Translate being improved with this update. Handwriting has been bolstered as well, and now supports Hebrew, Greek, Javanese, and Esperanto. You can now use your finger to write a word in any of those languages on your screen, and Google Translate will fire back with the translation you’re seeking. Handwriting is a useful feature for many people, so it’s nice to see new languages being added with this latest version of Google Translate.

Finally, the camera translate feature has been given support for Malay and Ukrainian, meaning you take a picture of text written in either of those languages and have it translated on the spot – helpful for people who need to know where they’re going but lack the fluency to ask someone who could possibly help. Google says it’s rolling the update out through the Google Play Store today and tomorrow, so it shouldn’t be long before the update arrives on your device. Tell us, has Google Translate ever helped you out while traveling?