There’s an update out for Google’s Android Translate app that you should definitely go download. Rather than just working in the dedicated app, Translate for Android now works its magic system-wide, letting you translate text from WhatsApp, emails, or any app you can think of.
Tap to Translate is a new feature that lets you translate text from any app system-wide, without needing to flip back into the Translate app. Simply copy text from any app, and a little Translate button will appear. Tap it, and you’ll get a translation of whatever you highlighted. It works with 103 different languages, and will even function offline. Best of all, since the update is to the Translate app, and not part of Android, you don’t have to wait for your device manufacturer to include the update. Provided that you’re running Android 4.2 or up, you just need to nab the latest update from the Play Store.
Translate has been one of Google’s most helpful tools for the last decade, and it’s single-handedly helped an entire generation through high school Spanish. But the advent of the smartphone has really unleashed the service’s capabilities — instead of typing in words, you can now translate a street sign by pointing your phone at it, use two-way speech translation to have a conversation, and translate offline when you’re travelling.
System-wide translation has been lacking in the past, but the latest update finally makes it a reality. Bad new for iOS users, however — Apple’s more locked-down operating system means you’re not likely to see this improvement any time soon. But there is one tiny piece of good news: offline translation is finally available for the iPhone app, you just have to download a 25MB language pack first.