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Google Translate now works inside any app on Android

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Google is making it way easier to translate text on Android: just highlight it.

The new feature is called Tap to Translate, and it arrives in an update to Google Translate for Android this morning. The feature allows Translate to automatically pop up inside of other apps after you've highlighted text in a foreign language. When you do, a little Translate icon will appear — it kind of looks like one of Facebook's chat heads — which you can then tap to read a translation. The pop up will also allow you to translate text from your first language back into the foreign language you're reading.

iOS is also getting a big new feature

It's a neat trick that should really save people some hassle, whether they frequently need to translate text or just do so on occasion. Google says it should work inside of any app, be it a chat app, a browser, or so on, so long as you can highlight the text. Microsoft added a very similar feature to its Android translation app last month, but it placed the translate option in the cut / copy / paste menu, which is maybe a bit less convenient than a giant bubble (or maybe less annoying, depending on how you look at it). Google previously offered translations in this way too, but it was limited to certain apps.

Google is bringing a couple of other updates to Google Translate today, too. An offline mode is rolling out on iOS, with each offline language only requiring a small 25MB of space. On both iOS and Android, Google is also rolling out support for Chinese inside of its Word Lens feature, which lets you point a phone's camera at a printed text and see an augmented translation. It's a pretty amazing feature when it works (but it can definitely be inconsistent).

google word lens-news-google

Image credit: Google.

Correction May 12th, 10:45AM ET: Google Translate offered translations in some third-party apps, through the copy/paste menu, prior to this update. This article previously implied that Microsoft began doing that first.