Google Translate is about to get a pretty big update that will add some great new features. According to an exclusive look over on Android Police, Translate is going to get live image translation and continuous auto-detection in conversation mode. These features will make the somewhat clunky Translate app into a real contender in the translation app space and add functionality that paid apps like Vocre have had for a while.
The image translation feature is one that Google is pulling from WordLens, which Google bought back in May. WordLens takes text that you're looking at and translates it into your language. All you have to do is point your camera at the text. After Google bought the company they made the app free in the Play Store. You can still download it and use it. The app doesn't need to capture an image, it just takes the text that it sees and immediately translates it into your chosen language. It appears that this functionality is coming to the Google Translate app in an update soon. These screenshots from Android Police show the Translate app doing what WordLens does. The Translate app will be able to translate back and forth between English six different languages. German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian will all be able to be translated to English with this new Live Translate feature. Unfortunately, it appears that you'll only be able translate to and from English. You won't be able to translate between French and German with Live Translate, at least not at first. Hopefully Google adds that functionality later.
The other thing that Translate is going to get soon is an updated conversation mode. The conversation mode is kind of clunky right now. You have to take turns speaking in a somewhat mechanical fashion for the conversation translation to take place. With this updated conversation mode, users will be able to talk pretty much naturally. The app will listen for both languages and automatically translate between the two as you speak. This will significantly improve the way the app functions and the experience that users will have.
Android Police says the app is just about ready to go. We should see the update to Google Translate with these new and improved features soon.