We had seen Word Lens previously on iOS, which is an augmented reality translation application from a company named Quest Visual. The app basically makes use of phone’s camera to identify text on sign or a menu card and translates the detected text into another language. It is one of the coolest and most innovative app ever in the Apple App Store, and it is finally out on Android Play Store.
The Android version of Word Lens was actually released previous month. All the features which made it awesome on iOS are retained in the Android version, including the entirely offline translation, which even Google Translate isn’t capable of, though Google Translate supports a whole lot of languages.
Like the iOS release, the app offers the user to translate text between English and three other languages including Spanish, French, and Italian. Initially, users will be provided a single language pack, and support for the other two languages can be added by purchasing language packs which are available separately. All you have to do is hold your phone up to a sign board or anything which has written text on it in one of the supported languages, and the app will translate the text to English, and all of this happens on the fly. Since the translation happens locally, the result appears instantly and doesn’t require you to be connected to any data network.
It’s worth noting that the app works best on clearly printed text only and doesn’t recognize handwriting or stylized fonts. Also, the translated text may not be perfect, but it will give a general meaning. Once focused on the text, the app replaces all the detected text with English translation, but unlike iOS version, we experienced rapid flickering of words between original and translated form, which makes it almost impossible to read continuously, however, there is a pause button which lessens the annoyance by capturing the current shot.
Word Lens for Android follows the pricing scheme of iOS version. You can buy the app for $4.99 from the Android Play Store, and initial download will let you choose one of the language packs – Spanish, Italian or French – for free. You can add additional language packs at a cost of $4.99 each. Like the iOS version, there’s also a “demo” version which basically demonstrates the working of app by spelling the detected words backwards or lets you digitally white-out the words.
Word Lens is a great piece of software to have and a must have while travelling, but the only sad part is that it is not as good as its iOS counterpart as the translation is very jumpy. Nevertheless, this is the initial build and we hope things get better with future updates. The free version can be found here and the paid version can be downloaded from here.