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Google today announced that the camera within the Translate app for iOS and Android is now able to translate 13 new languages including Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Thai, and Vietnamese. The update is available starting today and will be rolled out to Translate users worldwide in the coming days, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.

The additions of Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, and Punjabi means the camera now knows how to recognize 4 of the top 10 most spoken languages on Earth, according to Babbel.

Also added today was support for camera translations of other languages spoken in south Asia like Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Google Translate is able to handle visual translations of about 50 languages.


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Translation of text seen in photos or in real-time on billboards or menus was added for Google Translate in 2015, and started with 27 languages. To carry out visual translations, simply open the Translate app and choose the camera icon. Translations can be carried out in real time.

New translation capabilities with computer vision introduced today utilize Neural Machine Translation (NMT), a neural net-driven approach that got an upgrade for better offline translations earlier this year.

Optical character recognition from Google Cloud Vision API was used to train new datasets for the 13 languages, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat.

Translations with the camera in Google Translate do not work offline; however, the Translate app can be granted access to your photos to carry out translations when you re-establish an internet connection.

The news comes a day after the announcement that Lens, computer vision from Google that works with Google Assistant, will be made available in real time as part of the camera for the Pixel 3 due out November 1.

Lens can scan business cards, identify objects and landmarks, perform Style Search to find an outfit you like, and read text in images just like Google Translate is able to do.

Lens is also able to carry out translations, but the change to Translate today will not translate into the same translation capabilities for Lens.

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