The functionality of the translating tool by Google is widely known and the tool itself is easily available, although it works better with less demanding texts, as its quality leaves a lot to be desired. If in the case of the translations from English the resulting texts are more or less coherent and comprehensible, with other languages the effect is very often absurd, comical and not very much related to the original.

This tool was however lately improved by the addition of an interesting function – instant translation of writings captioned on an image sent to the app. We can then check for example what the sign on some building says, read the composition of a product we want to buy, or even translate a restaurant menu. We, Poles, will be mostly interested in the 4.0 version, as it includes the Polish language.

How does it work?

After starting the app we have to choose the camera mode, that is we click the icon in the lower part of the interface. Then we take a picture of the object with the text that we want to translate. The next step is to mark the text with your finger. The translator will immediately translate the text you that have indicated.

The programme does not use the augmented reality (a technology combining the real world with computer-generated graphics), but taking a picture and marking the text is equally fast and effective. What’s also important, we don’t have to know a single sign in a given alphabet. It could be the Cyrillic alphabet or the Arabic script. The app will recognise the subsequent letters.


Unfortunately, the programme doesn’t work perfectly. The photos must be very clear and have the right contrast. Even if the quality of the photo is really good, sometimes the translated text won’t make much sense. However, in most cases the meaning can be understood from the context, and we don’t really want beautiful syntax, correct word order and professional translation – we only need information.


Undoubtedly, a great asset of this app is the possibility of working offline. In order to do that, we need to download the language packs. It’s particularly significant when we don’t have the Internet access and using data roaming is a strain on our budget.

It should also be mentioned that the pictures that we take with this app aren’t kept anywhere. This way we don’t load our memory with unnecessary images and we don’t need to immediately delete them. Also, the images we want for translation could be chosen from the previously saved photos.

Perfect for travelling

To sum up, Google Translate may not be a professional translation tool and the quality of translated texts leaves a lot to be desired. However, if we’re going abroad and we simply want to have the possibility to instantly understand the writings we see in various places, the app will serve us excellently and will be very useful in our travels.

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