May 9, 2016
Google has rolled out a new version of its Translate app for iOS and Android, bringing a new offline mode to the iPhone, and the ability to translate from within apps on Android.
The update also adds Chinese to Translate's Word Lens live translation feature.
In-app translation, dubbed Tap to Translate on Android, cuts out the need to copy text from one app and paste it into Translate and to switch back and forth between apps.
Now, if you're using an app such as WhatsApp, you would simply copy the text within the app and a Google Translate button will appear, giving you the option to translate the text right there.
Once pressed, a Google Translate popup window displays the original and translated text. Translate detects the copied language and offers the option to get a new translation in another language.
Tap to Translate works for all supported languages, which now number 103, and works on Android 4.2 and above, according to Google.
Offline mode for Translate on Android has been available for several years but now it's also available on iOS. The capability is handy because when you're most likely to need Translate is also when you're least likely to have a mobile connection, namely on the street in a foreign country.
While the feature is new to iOS, both Android and iOS will benefit from newly optimized language packs that enable offline translation.
Google says it has shrunk these files by 90 percent to around 25MB each. Offline translation also now supports 52 languages with the recent addition of a Filipino language pack.
Setting up a language for offline translation can be done by selecting the language and pressing the downward arrow next the language.
Google integrated its Word Lens technology into Translate last year, to let users point their cameras at text and have it translated on screen.
The feature initially focused on European languages, but has now expanded to 29 languages with the addition of Simplified and Traditional Chinese translation to and from English.
This feature also worked offline already, thanks to the smaller 4MB files that now appear to be integrated with the general language packs.