The Bing Blog has news of an updated Translator App for Windows Phone, powered by Bing. This app is free to download and use and combines voice, text and image translation capabilities.
Bing Translator and the language packs for image translation are free downloads; these currently include English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Chinese Simplified. Language packs can be held on local storage so that when you are travelling and might need access to this app you don’t always have to rely on having a mobile signal/data connection to use some of the functionality.
The image side of things works very simply, more simple than the blog alludes to as it says “Point, Scan and Translate”. All you will be doing is pointing the camera, you don’t need to take the picture, the scan and translate bits are done by the app with no further button pressing or interaction. As you can see in the video below, on the foreign language signs/documents, the original text is overlaid with text in your preferred language. Great for getting around a foreign city, reading the menus and public notices etc.
The speaking section of the program does all the languages above minus the Chinese. The Bing Blog suggests this functionality does still need a data connection, probably because the speech recognition software is on a server. Apple’s Siri speech recognition functionality similarly uses the Nuance Communications software on their servers.
Finally there is the type and translate mode, you type in your preferred language and can choose from over 30 languages to translate to, requiring a data connection for your phone, except for the downloadable language pack languages. For some of the languages the app can also speak the translation result for you, pretty useful for those other alphabets and scripts that you can’t even attempt to pronounce.
The new version of the app looks like it uses the best bits of competing translator apps such as Word Lens on iOS and Google Translate on iOS and Android then mashes them into one more usable whole. It’s a good translator app for the Windows Phone Marketplace languages category.