updated 03:49 pm EDT, Fri May 16, 2014
Word Lens technology to be incorporated into Google Translate
Google has acquired Quest Visual, the creators of the Word Lens translation app for iOS and Android. The purchase, for an undisclosed amount, will see the company's technology rolled into Google's existing app, Google Translate in the future, and will likely involve the removal of the Word Lens app from sale on both Google Play and the App Store in the future.
Word Lens allows users to automatically translate text from one language into another via the device's camera. Text display onscreen is replaced by the translation, overlaying the original and matching the size and position. While this is also possible in other apps, Word Lens performs the translation and overlay without requiring an Internet connection. Quest Digital recently created a version of the app for Google Glass, allowing it to be used by the head-mounted display.
The Quest Visual website states the company has "seen the beginnings of what's possible when we harness the power of mobile devices to 'see the world in your language'. By joining Google, we can incorporate Quest Visual's technology into Google Translate's broad language coverage and translation capabilities in the future."
The company has opted to make the app and language packs free to download "for a limited time while we transition to Google." It is unclear when or if Google will pull the app from view, but possibly after it adds similar functionality to its own apps.