The service previously offered translations between English and French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The app works both ways: Non-English speakers can also translate English signs into their native languages. For Hindi and Thai translations, however, Google Translate can only convert English to the two languages—not the other way around—due to the complexity of their characters.
The app also works in the absence of a data connection for a phone, which makes it optimal for travelers.
The instant translation feature is largely derived from the Word Lens app, which Google acquired last year when it purchased the company behind it, Quest Visual.'