Translate signs on the fly with Word Lens
This may be my new favorite app to have on my iPhone. How many times have you been out and read a sign that was in Spanish, only to wonder what it said? With Word Lens by Quest Visual and an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can now translate on the fly.
To use the app you must have an iPhone 3GS or higher. If you have an iPod Touch it must be the 4th generation, because the app relies on the video camera. The app will only work if you have IOS 4 or higher. I’d recommend 4.2 because of all the bugs that have been fixed from the original launch of IOS 4.
Don’t be fooled by the FREE sign when you go to download the app, it does cost something. When you download Word Lens and try it, you’ll just see words appearing backwards. They were clever enough to sell this app for free so that you can test out the technology first, then purchase a translation pack. Many people have rated the app horribly on the app store thinking it was silly for them to do this but I think it’s clever and smart business.
Each pack costs $4.99 and they’re two of them. English to Spanish; Spanish to English. I purchased the English to Spanish after witnessing with my own eyes how amazing the app worked. For those of you confused by the purchase process it’s what Apple calls an in-store app purchase. You do not purchase the translation packs from the app store but actually in the app itself.
How it works
Using the video camera on the phone, Word Lens translates almost immediately when you hold it up to a sign. Now, don’t try to get clever and use it on some crazy billboard or script font. It probably won’t work because it’s purpose originally was for sign translation. Most signs are done in similar fonts like Helvetica, Times New Roman, Arial, etc. I’ve had much success using the app and tried it on all sorts of fonts. Believe it or not I would say I had 95% success with a variety of fonts even out of the norm.
Let us know what you think of Word Lens and what languages you’d like to see added in the future. I’d love English to French personally!