Google snatches up Word Lens, the most magical translation app for iPhone

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Google has bought Quest Visual, the company behind the popular Word Lens translation app.

Apple’s most recent iPhone 5s ad featured Word Lens, and rightfully so; it’s one of the most magical tools you’ll ever use on a smartphone. The app works by instantly translating text in different languages seen through the iPhone’s camera. It’s an astounding piece of technology, and it will now be incorporated into Google Translate.

The good news is that now is the best time to download Word Lens, because its creators have made all of its language packs free for a limited time.

While Word Lens is a free download in the App Store, you need language packs to actually make it useful. Each one costs a few bucks, but they’re all free right now. That’s quite a steal.

I used Word Lens when I was in Russia during the Olympics, and it worked surprisingly well. The most impressive part of the app was that it kept the font and styling of whatever sign or menu I was looking at and just switched out the Russian text for English. It’s one of the few apps I’ve ever used that immediately blew me away.

Google snatches up Word Lens, the most magical translation app for iPhone

Word Lens is also available in Google Play, and it even works on Google Glass. It’s clear why Google wanted the product.

Quest Visual says that it’s looking forward to “continuing our work at Google,” but it doesn’t look like the future is bright for future development of Word Lens as a standalone app.

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Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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