There are many translators to use on your smartphone, but it’s often not terribly practical to type long sections of text on your screen when you come across, for instance, a poster at the bus stop. Word Lens Translator solves this problem by allowing you to view the translation in real time of any foreign-language text that you snap with your smartphone’s camera.

This is a free app for iOS and Android that can retain the size, shape, and font of the phrases that you focus your camera on when it displays the translation of the content in question, and can work with several languages in both directions using English as a base, among them Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Russian.

Its other secret weapon is that it doesn’t need an Internet connection to work, as it already includes its own dictionary and translation rules. That said, the app can’t do miracles, and although it can detect and translate most words it comes across, at the semantic level it usually has errors, meaning its usefulness is confined to understanding posters or particular instructions rather than for translating broader texts.

Its interface is very basic, allowing you to turn your camera flash off or on to improve visibility, zoom in on an image, or rotate it. In addition, it includes extra access to the dictionary by typing words in manually, like you would for any other translation tool.

Word Lens is a truly interesting tool: consider that Google has already acquired both the product and Quest Visual, the developer that created it, with the aim of adapting the product for use with the Google Glass. Couldn’t ask for better integration!

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