While there may not be much use for the capability to translate foreign words in real-time for the average every day smartphone user, there are a handful of ways one can translate words if need be. At least one offering so far called Word Lens claims to offer real-time word translations when you hold the camera on your smartphone up to any words in a foreign language and have it translated to your chosen language in real-time, right in front of your eyes. The Android app can be found in the Play Store and while results may vary from user to user, it provides a pretty good experience should anyone have the need for quick translations in a pinch when they see something in a language they don't understand.
Google has offered a decent enough solution to those looking to translate words, albeit not in real-time, with their Google Translate app for Android as well as the desktop version that's baked directly into Chrome, but now according to the New York Times, Google is getting ready to release a new service that can translate words in real-time similar to the way that you can do with an app like Word Lens. Google is also planning an update to the Android 'Translate' app that will automatically recognize when someone is speaking another language and translate it into text. It's unclear exactly how it will work, but if you use Translate, after this update takes root you'll likely have to configure it to translate popular spoken languages into written text in a language of your choosing so it's ready when the opportunity arrises. So for example, if you want things translated into English, presumably after the update it would seem logical that you could configure Translate to listen for popular spoken languages and have it translated into written English.
Google is big on multi-language support by offering their apps and services in as many languages as they can, and with these new features coming to their translate app they'll be making it ever more possible to break down the barrier of language for people with the simple use of technology in our smartphones. There wasn't any word on when exactly we can expect to see the update to Google Translate, nor were there specific details on a name for Google's upcoming real-time translation service through the phone screen or a timeframe when an app like that will be available to the public, as "soon" could mean anything from weeks to six months.