Google Lens replaces the camera tool in Google Translate

Back in September, Google previewed a new AR Translate feature for Lens that takes advantage of the technology behind the Pixel’s Magic Eraser. Ahead of that, Google Translate has replaced its built-in translation camera with Google Lens.

Besides visual search that has various shopping, object, and landmark identification use cases, Google Lens is good at lifting text for real-world copy and paste. 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 ahead of time.

The Google Translate mobile apps have long offered a camera tool that was last revamped in 2019 with auto-detect and support for more languages. The Android app’s broader Material You redesign modernized the UI last year. 

Given the overlap between the camera tools, Google is now replacing the native Translate capability with Google Len’s filter. Tapping the camera in both Translate mobile apps just opens a Lens UI.

On Android, this launches the system-level capability, while the iOS app now has an instance of Lens built-in. When launching from Google Translate, you only have access to the “Translate” filter and cannot switch to any other Lens capabilities. At the top, you can manually change languages, turn on 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 is already widely rolled out in Google Translate for Android and iOS.

This consolidation makes sense, and comes ahead of AR Translate, which features “major advancements in AI.” The current approach overlays converted text on top of the image using “color blocks” to mask what’s being replaced. 

Going forward, Google Lens will swap out the original text outright by leveraging the Pixel’s Magic Eraser technology, which can easily remove distractions in images. Additionally, translated text will match the original style. Coming later this year, AR Translate works in 100 milliseconds on both screenshots and live in the Google Lens camera.

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