Amazing iPhone/iPod touch app offers real-time, augmented reality text translations (with video)

“A new iPhone app known as Word Lens will translate Spanish or English phrases instantly on the screen when you point your device’s camera lens at the foreign language words,” Chloe Albanesius reports for PC Magazine. “Not sure what the menu in that Madrid sidewalk cafe is offering? Point your iPhone’s camera at the menu and it will translate right in front of you.”

“The futuristic app made its debut in the App Store Thursday, and is currently the number nine app in Apple’s top 10 free apps,” Albanesius reports. “Word Lens, from San Francisco-based Quest Visual, is free to download and includes two free features – reverse words and erase words. The Spanish to English function or English to Spanish feature, however, currently cost $4.99 each to download as part of a 50 percent off sale that ends December 31.”

Albanesius reports, “Quest Visual said the feature works without an Internet connection… Word Lens works with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, or iPod touch with a video camera. Other languages are in the works, the company said.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Pretend iPhone sufferers can sit and spin.


  1. Notice they pick phrases that could be translated accurately. Yet, we all know that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is not here. So, as neat as this scanning-the-words-rather-than-typing-them-in-Google-Translate feature is, the app won’t be able to provide fully-accurate translations, just like Google Translate at cannot. I personally don’t care if translations are not fully accurate, as long as I get the gist of what is being translated. That being said, the technology behind this app is profound and it remains to be seen what else it can be applied to. Congratulations Quest Visual on this app and keep up the good work.

  2. @David

    The app reverses erases the letters of all words on the viewfinder as a demo of the technology. The english-spanish and spanish-english dictionaries are in-app purchases, with more languages coming soon.

  3. @David,
    The developers are describing the free functions (word reversal and word erasing) as a “proof of concept” to entice you to buy language translation packs.

  4. @Cubert,
    “Imagine what someone would have said if you told them 5 years ago that a phone would be able to do OCR?”

    I would’ve smugly laughed and told them that by that time the iPhone would be able to do augmented reality OCR, because in a few years I expect my iPhone will enable me to time travel, so my 5 years ago self will know everything about the future.

  5. Don’t waste your money like I did. I paid $4.99 for Spanish to English and it gets a word right about 1 out of ten times in the real world and if there are words & texts of different sizes together, it doesn’t work at all. I feel ripped off.

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