Star Trek‘s universal translator is here, and it’s on your phone. Google is updating its Translate app on Wednesday, and, as rumored, the new version includes automatic language detection in conversation mode, so having a conversation between two people who don’t speak the same language is actually possible.
Once you’ve selected the two languages being spoken, Google Translate can now tell which one is being spoken at any moment. With no need to manually toggle them, conversations can be more natural.
The update to Google Translate also integrates Word Lens, which instantaneously translates written text. Previous versions required the user to take a picture of text and mark which words they wanted translated; Word Lens means you only need to hold the phone up so the text is visible onscreen, and the app will translate the words before your eyes.
Word Lens will work without an Internet connection
Word Lens will work without an Internet connection. The visual translations work in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. For other languages, you’ll still need to take a pic first.
The new features are coming to both the iOS and Android versions of Google Translate.
Between Google Translate and Microsoft’s real-time Skype translator, the barrier of language is rapidly disappearing thanks to technology. It may not solve all the world’s problems, but at least travel and tourism will get a little easier for many.