May 07, 2010, 10:53 AM — Strap on your seatbelts, Android fans: Google has a new tool in its Google Goggles Android app, and it's time to take it for a test drive.
Google announced the debut of its Google Goggles image-based text translation feature this morning. The feature, integrated into the new 1.1 version of the Goggles app, allows you to point your phone's camera at any block of text and have it instantly translated into your native tongue.
That's what it does in theory, at least. I gave it a whirl to see how well it actually worked.
Using Google Goggles Text Translation
Using the Google Goggles translation tool is simple enough: After downloading the latest version of the Goggles app (click here for a direct barcode link), you simply open the app and aim your phone at text. It could be on a street sign, a menu, or practically anything else you could imagine.
Once you have your target text in sight, you can improve your odds of getting a good translation by honing in on the specific words you want and blocking out everything else. You accomplish this by using a simple new crop tool, accessible via an on-screen icon, to select the area of the screen that's relevant.
I grabbed the first non-English material I could find -- a stack of old product manuals -- and started scanning. First up was a chunk of text in French from a Sony LCD TV product registration card. Goggles recognized and picked up the text quickly, providing me with an on-screen version and an option to translate.
Seconds after I clicked the "Translate" button, Goggles gave me my answer. Well, kind of: The app did detect that the original text was in French. But its translation wasn't exactly in English:
"Thank you cl'avoir bought this Sony product. Ifenregistrement Sony product is fast, easy and secure, and allows us to create pcrte or stolen produces a file that can be used in case of p dc It also allows us to send you periodic mailings about dcs de_nouveauÁc products or contact you in the unlikely event a notiñcation security is required. Please take the time ite dënreaistrer the Web uroduit We on our site"