The updated translation app improves upon the current text recognition feature by incorporating the real-time translation technology that Google acquired with Word Lens last year. Instead of capturing a photo for translation, users can point their phones at signs, menus and other text and immediately view overlays containing the translated phrases.
At launch, this Word Lens feature will support a limited number of languages (English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) with additional languages expected in the future. It also will work even when there is no available Internet connection.
Google has also added a new real-time conversation mode that is available for the first time on the iOS platform. Previously incorporated into Android, this real-time mode improves the flow of a conversation by automatically detecting the languages being used by the participants. Once language identification is complete, users can speak at a natural pace without needing to tap the mic between each side of the conversation.
Google is rolling out the Translate update across its platforms with the iOS version debuting in the next few days. Google Translate is a universal app and available for free in the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]
Update 10:42 AM: The Google Translate update is now available in the App Store.