Saturday, May 8, 2010


I've been watching the evolution of so-called 'smart phones' with interest, particularly Google's Android phone operating system, which seems to hold promise as an open-architecture system that can be adopted and customized by almost any phone manufacturer. I like that better than the closed architecture of Apple's iPhone.

There's a new application available for Android phones that sounds really useful. Fortune reports:

The mobile application for Android got updated today with the ability to snap a picture of some words and instantly translate them into the language of the owner.

Google's Goggles mobile application has always been a fun tool. The idea is that if you snap a picture and upload it to Google (as well as your location/time), Google could present more about that object, and by extension, your surroundings. It isn't always terribly accurate in identifying what is in the picture, but the results are sometimes helpful, if not amusing.

Today, Goggles got a very specific use feature that will help travelers and readers of foreign language texts immensely. Now you can point your Android camera at a sign, book, or any sort of foreign word, snap a picture, and get a translation. Google uses optical character recognition, or OCR, to turn the image into words, and then uses its translation services to turn those words into a language you recognize.

There's more at the link.

I can't remember how often I've been in a foreign restaurant, really hungry, but unable to translate the items on the menu so I could be sure what I was ordering. With this new app, that problem would be a thing of the past. Perhaps it's time to look into an Android phone for myself.



ZerCool said...

I was discussing phones with a fellow hockey bachelor during a tournament a couple weeks ago - he has a newish Android something and I have my new Palm. One of the slick little apps that he has is a bar code scanner. It uses the phone's camera, takes a picture of the barcode (1-D or 2-D), then identifies the product and runs it through google to find out the best price advertised online. Magic!

skreidle said...

Be aware, though, that not all Android phones are created equal--my HTC Eris won't be able to run Google Goggles until it gets Android 2.1.

Be sure to check out the Google Sky Map app!

skreidle said...

Oh yeah--I read and responded to this with my Eris. :D