Google acquires sorprendente translation app Word Lens, but will it do with it?

04 June 2014

Google has bought out the makers of app Word Lens and here’s hoping we find it next as a default feature of the Android camera.

Word Lens is one of those apps smartphones were made for. Hold up the camera on your phone in front of a foreign language and Word Lens will translate what is written — on the fly. Not only, but it will attempt to format the translation so that it looks like the way it is printed on the original.

Even more surprising is the fact that Word Lens doesn’t require an internet connection to make its translations. The app’s large 41MB download contains everything you need to translate between English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Russian.

In fact, if you download the app now for either iOS (link) or Android (link) you can test it out with the headline of this article to see what the Spanish word ‘sorprendente’ means. If you already speak Spanish, sorry, but you’ll have to create your own demo.

Where to for Word Lens?

The big question which follows a company like Google acquiring an app like Word Lens is what will they do with it next? Will Google take developer Quest Visual into the fold and have them work on Googlifying their work, or will it disband the team and bury Word Lens under tons of bureaucracy?

We’d love to see Word Lens incorporated into the Google Camera app, even if it requires in-app purchases for language packs or other data. Being able to fire up the camera in a foreign country and read a menu would be incredible.

There is also a weird synergy between Word Lens and the work Google is doing on Project Tango — its smartphone prototype which uses 3D sensors to map the world around it. Both projects focus on interpreting the world around us, so there might be a place for this acquisition inside some of the coolest upcoming gadgets from Google.



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