The Genius Google Translate Hack You Need To Know Before Traveling Abroad

Going out to eat or following directions in a new country with an unfamiliar language can be daunting. Luckily, there are translation apps, like Google Translate, that are changing the game.

Technology has played a major part in advancing the travel industry by allowing us to navigate cities more easily, save time at the airport, book amazing cultural experiences, find better deals that fit within our budget, and track our flights with ease. With Google Translate, you can speak with locals and make connections, get where you need to go without getting lost, and choose the right dishes from a menu.

As any avid user of the app will tell you, though, there's one thing that holds it back: It can be time-consuming to type in everything you want to be translated. Especially if, for example, you need to check an ingredients list for your allergens or read a chunk of explanatory text at an exhibit.

That's all going to change once you learn about these new Google Translate features. Now, you can hold a continuous conversation, transcribing live audio as it's being spoken, or — coolest of all — translate text using your camera. This will certainly come in handy for your next trip abroad.

How to use Google Translate's newest and coolest features

Picture this: You stumble into a restaurant in Rome after a long day of walking around. Faced with a list of options that you don't understand, it can be tempting to just wing it and get the scaloppine. After all, you do have a hankering for seafood. Except, scaloppini doesn't have scallops. It's veal filets.

How could Google Translate have helped you out here? When you open the app, you should see a camera symbol below the text input box. Click this, and it will open your camera in the app. Simply point your phone at the bit of text you want to translate, and voilà! Your menu will be translated in real-time.

But let's say you want to ask your waiter a few questions about the scaloppine. In Google Translate, simply choose the next option, the icon with two people, to start a conversation. Ask what kind of meat it is, if they like the dish, or what they recommend as an alternative.

Finally, let's say your friend (or maybe your Italian Tinder date) has convinced you to head to a poetry reading, a lecture, or a comedy show, but you don't understand everything being said. Google Translate's transcribe feature can take audio and live transcribe it for you so you can keep up with the jokes or poetry.

The best ways to use Google Translate's most useful feature

For those of us who have no time to waste inputting text into Google Translate, the camera feature is by far our favorite travel hack. However, you might find there's a slight learning curve to using this feature.

Make sure when using the camera function that you have all the text you want to be translated in the frame. Without the entire context, you might just get broken, poorly translated segments. You'll also want to make sure you have the right balance of light, as dim or overly bright lighting can make it difficult for the camera to pick up the text on a flat surface.

While text can be translated in real-time, you can also take a photo of the text in the app. From here, you have even more options to choose from. You can "Send to Translate Home," which takes the pictured text and inputs it into the main text box. From here, you can make corrections if Google Translate is still not picking up exactly what's written. Once translated, you can then save the text to the app for later reference (using the star symbol) or share the results.

After taking a photo in the app, you also have the option to select text if you only want to translate a chunk of what was scanned. You can then copy the translated text, listen to it, or do a Google search of the scanned text.