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Have You Tried The Google Translate App’s New Word Lens Feature?

Have You Tried The Google Translate App’s New Word Lens Feature?

Thanks to a recent update to the Google Translate app, the ability to travel, live, and do business abroad has never been easier.  The recent additions and improvements to the app make conversing in and navigating around a foreign country as simple as aiming a smartphone camera or speaking into a microphone.

Translate Text, in Real Time, Without an Internet Connection

The most notable new enhancement to Google Translate is the Word Lens feature, which was developed as its own app in 2010 by a company called Quest Visual.  This app allowed users to merely hold their phone up to a sign or printed text and have it translated immediately.  As such, it was no wonder that Google wanted to own it.

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Now a part of Google Translate, this feature currently translates text from French, German, Italian, Portugese, Russian, and Spanish into English, and vice versa.  Google indicates it plans to support even more languages in the future.  For those that aren’t already offered, users can use Camera Mode, which allows them to take a photo, highlight the text, and obtain a translation.  This feature is available in 36 languages.

One of the biggest perks to the new Word Lens feature is that it works even without an Internet or data connection.  This allows travelers to translate on the go without having to pay an exorbitant amount of money for an international data plan.

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Conversations Flow Seamlessly

The second most notable feature of the new Google Translate is its ability to detect which language is being spoken when used in its speech or conversation mode.  Historically, the app required users to manually select the language for translation before each new phrase was spoken.  With the newest release, the need only indicate the two languages at the initial setup.  The app does the work after that, allowing conversations to flow much more naturally.

As a North American expat living in the Latin tropics, I’m often asked for advice on breaking down the language barrier when traveling or relocating abroad.  With these new features and improvements, the Google Translate app is a resource I recommend to help ease that transition.

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Still a Few Bugs to Work Out

That being said, the app certainly isn’t without its flaws.  The Word Lens app struggles with translating handwriting or particularly intricate text or fonts.  As a result, it occasionally makes mistakes.  Likewise, the conversation mode will sometimes come up with something totally wonky that scarcely resembles the actual words spoken.  All in all, though, it’s usually pretty accurate and does a great job of getting the point across.

The app is free to download from the App Store, and it’s available for both iPhone and iPad and on the Google Play Store for Android users.

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Featured photo credit: spanish-learn-speech-translation-375830/jairojehuel via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

Technology has taken a vantage leap in providing solutions for man. Before now, technology used to appear complex and would require a great deal of expertise to handle solutions available. Today, we have technology applicable in the simplest human activities as smart products with intelligent algorithms powering them as they make error-free judgments and provide intelligent and analytic solutions.

Does technology have all the answers?

This article from Credit Suisse, tells us that technology does not have all the answers because it has been found to exhibit “similar biases,” as humans. No one can discredit the impact of technology, but it is not totally free of human input and this is the reason we experience these biases in many areas we have technology holding foot.

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Creating technological solutions transparently

This article suggests that the process of creating technological solutions be made transparent and subject to contribution from many people who would end up as users of the product – male, female, young, old, learned, unlearned and all other preferences as we have them. It also underscores the importance of having women on product development teams. This approach is not sure to eliminate all forms of bias, but it is a good way to start in order to appraise the full benefits of technology.

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Technology as the connecting tool

Technology so far has been a major connecting tool amongst us humans. It is used and appreciated by all regardless of race, language and sex. In order to keep it less subjective to these arguments about human biases. I believe we should gather opinions on products and solutions before making them available to the public. This could be done by gathering input from intended target users and receiving feedback across the stages of production.

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“Recognizing the problem is a start…success will depend on inclusive technologies that meet this vast untapped market.” This cannot be more apt especially at a time when we look up to technology for solutions. We should not muzzle our progress with technology by battling algorithm bias. The first way to avoid this battle is by reading this article here.

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