Google acquires Word Lens, the powerful augmented-reality translation app


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Google Translate is already a powerful utility, but apparently there's more work to be done.

On Friday Google acquired Word Lens, the popular augmented-reality translation app from Quest Visual. Word Lens translates printed words from one language into another using just the camera and display on your smartphone or Google Glass. It's a borderline amazing service: Just point your device's camera at a word printed in, say, Italian, and Word Lens will show you the English translation on your display, all in real-time.

The app's language packs are stored locally, so you don't even have to be connected to the Internet to use the feature, which makes it a wonderful utility if you're a frequent jet setter across international lines.

Quest Visual released a statement on the acquisition:

With Word Lens, we've seen the beginnings of what's possible when we harness the power of mobile devices to "see the world in your language."

By joining Google, we can incorporate Quest Visual's technology into Google Translate's broad language coverage and translation capabilities in the future.

As a thank you to everybody who supported us on our journey, we've made both the app and the language packs free to download for a limited time while we transition to Google.

The app is available in both the Google Play store and the iTunes App Store. No word on whether the acquisition will affect iPhone and iPad users.

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