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Business travellers will know first-hand the struggles of deciphering a foreign language when overseas. Many apps aim to make this easier, including Google Translate, which is rolling out some improvements to its 'instant camera translation' feature.
If you haven't already discovered Google Translate, or experimented with its camera translation capabilities, put this free app on your list.
Yes, you can manually type in a phrase for translation – although it's laborious, you'll probably make some mistakes when dealing with unfamiliar words, and then how do you cope with Asian languages packed with non-Western characters?
Instead, just point your smartphone's camera at some words and watch the magic happen as an English translation pops-up almost straight away.
I used Google Translate on a recent trip to Japan, where it proved indispensable from dealing with local medicines when I was under the weather (left) to deciphering a restaurant kiosk booking screen (right).
Google's latest update doubles down on the functionality, beginning with auto-detection of languages as well as more source languages, including many in the Asia-Pacific region such as Vietnamese and Māori, for a total of 88 languages ready to be translated.
The output can now be translated into more than 100 other languages, including translations between non-English pairs such as from Japanese to Korean.
Finally, some tweaks behind-the-scenes means more accurate and natural translations with improvements of 55-85% in certain language pairs.
Most languages can be downloaded offline so you can use the camera feature without roaming internet data. However, the best results are obtained from being online.
Google Translate's instant camera feature still has three modes – 'instant' for live translations, 'scan' for taking a photo a selecting with your finger what you want to be translated, and ''import' for loading up images already in your camera roll. You can download the app from Google Play or the Apple Store.