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I love Google Translate for Android. I used it every day during my trip to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress in February. I was easily able to type out a text message in English and have it translated for my cab drivers, restaurant hosts and plenty of other people. The reception was always positive: the locals appreciated that I was trying to interact accurately and respect their language to the best of my ability. Now, Google has updated its Translate application with tons of new features.

The application now supports text translation for 54 different languages, support for speech-to-text in 17 languages and the ability to listen to translated text in 40 different languages. That means, for example, you can ask “Where’s the bathroom” and have it translated to the appropriate response  in 40 different languages. Your phone will handle the pronunciation, too, because it’s the one doing the speaking.

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The update is also loaded with a new feature that allows you to take a picture in order to translate text – like a street sign, for example. Translations will also be displayed in full screen, so it’s easier for everyone to read.

So how does the new picture translating feature work? I gave it a whirl briefly on my Galaxy S III. First, I snapped an image of a street sign I found using Google image search on my computer. Then, I used my finger to brush over the text that I wanted translated and hit enter. The application, in somewhat broken English, displayed the general warning that the sign said: You have to be 21 to purchase alcoholic beverages. Pretty amazing stuff!

I can’t wait to use the new features in Berlin during IFA at the end of this month. The update is free from Google Play now.

[via Google Play, Android Central]