In September, Google previewed a new AR Translate feature for Lens that uses the technology behind the Pixel’s Magic Eraser. Prior to that, Google Translate replaced its built-in translation camera with Google Lens.
In addition to visual search with various use cases for store, object, and landmark identification, Google Lens is good at overriding text for copy and paste in the real world. That “Text” capability goes hand-in-hand with the “Translate” filter that can overlay your translation over the foreign text in the scene to better preserve context. This can also work offline if you download the language pack in advance.
Google Translate’s mobile apps have long offered a camera tool that was last revamped in 2019 with auto-detection and support for more languages. The wider Material You redesign of the Android app last year modernized the user interface.
Given the overlap between the camera tools, Google is now replacing the native Translate capability with Google Len’s filter. Tapping the camera in either of the Translate mobile apps simply opens a Lens user interface.
On Android, this launches the system-level capability, while the iOS app now has an instance of Lens built-in. When you start from Google Translate, you can only access the “Translate” filter and you can’t switch to other Lens capabilities. At the top you can manually change the language, enable clash and “Show original text”, while you can import existing images/screenshots on your device from the bottom left corner.
Old camera in Translate vs. new Google Lens
This change has already been rolled out widely in Google Translate for Android and iOS.
This consolidation makes sense and comes ahead of AR Translate, which features “major advances in AI.” The current approach superimposes converted text over the image using “color blocks” to mask what is being replaced.
In the future, Google Lens will completely replace the original text by using Pixel’s Magic Eraser technology, which can easily remove distractions in images. In addition, the translated text corresponds to the original style. AR Translate is coming later this year and works in 100 milliseconds on both screenshots and live in the Google Lens camera.
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