In the famous Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, there exists the Babel Fish. A small, squiggly creature, the fish can be ingested through the ear and it has the capacity to make you instantly understand and speak every language in the known universe. Of course, the exact mechanics were never made clear, but the Babel Fish was pretty handy.  Unfortunately for us, our fish are only good for the palate. Google is part of a group of companies, that are trying to compensate for the inadequacy of our piscine friends, and it has recently made another breakthrough in the direction.

Google’s visual translation feature, which lets users translate text simply by pointing their camera at it, has added a slew of new languages. The feature now offers support for 13-new languages, bringing the total number of languages that can be translated using the feature to almost 50. That’s pretty impressive and will let users navigate their way through diner menus and street signs in almost any corner of the world.

The newly added languages include Punjabi, Bengali, Vietnamese, Thai, Gujarati, Kannada, Nepali, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. These languages are available for both iOS and Android, and have started rolling out to devices yesterday.

Using the Google app to translate is pretty simple as well. You can access the feature in the app by navigating to the camera icon on the home screen. Once you are there, the app will automatically prompt you to line up text you want to translate and take a quick snap. After that, the app will leverage a machine learning technique called the Neural Machine Translation (NMT), and provide you with a translated version of the text in the language of your choice.

Of course, the translation would not be 100 percent correct all the time – at least not until the systems have had time to put in some practice. But since we don’t have the babel fish, it is something.

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