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Microsoft Translator for Android can now translate text in a photo

On a trip and can’t figure out what the signs say? Microsoft hopes to change that, and has updated its Translator app for Android to now be able to translate text in photos.

Photos can either be taken using the device’s camera, or if you’ve already taken a photo you want translated, you can tell the app to use that. Of course, you could have already just typed the text, but Microsoft is trying to make things more convenient.

Related: Snap pictures of a document and translate them with Xerox’s translation app

“With the new image translation feature in the Translator app for Android, you no longer need to type text or say foreign languages phrases out loud when you see them written on signs, menus, flyers …whatever,” said Microsoft in a blog post. “Instead you can translate pictures instantly from your phone, with the translation appearing in an overlay above the existing text.”

Of course, the iOS version of the Translator app got this feature back in February, but Microsoft is trying hard to compete with Google — what better place to do that than on Google’s home turf, Android? Still, Microsoft has yet to give Translator a feature that Google’s Translate app offers — the ability to hold the phone up to some text and see it magically change to your chosen language before your eyes.

On iOS, however, Translator recently gained a feature that Google Translate does not yet have — support for offline translation.

The update to Translator also adds another interesting feature — the ability to translate text in any app, without having to switch apps, provided you’re using either Android Marshmallow or the Android N developer preview. All you have to do is highlight the text, then, instead of cutting, copying, or sharing, choose “Other Options.” Google Translate on Android has a similar feature, but it requires you to switch apps.

At this point it’s hard to tell who will win the translation app war. While Google Translate has long been the favorite, Microsoft is certainly adding some compelling features.

You can download the app for yourself here.

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