Incomprehensible menus in fancy French restaurants need never be a source of angst again. Those unsure of whether they’d like their steak “bien cuit ou saignant” can simply consult their mobile phones.

Internet giant Google has released software allowing users of its Android phone to translate foreign signs or even complete Sudoku puzzles by taking a picture on their mobile phones . The latest version of Google Goggles, a program designed to identify images such as buildings, can read text in pictures. The system converts the images of the words into text legible to a phone or internet browser.

The words can then be automatically fed into any existing Google service – such as Google Translate – and sent back to the user. The new technology can also be used to look up information on products found in shops, a Google spokesman said. Google Goggles, which can be downloaded in the company’s Android Market, was previously capable of recognising landmarks and artworks as well as logos and books. This is the first time it has been able to read printed text.

Google video showing the feature


The British Library released its first ever smartphone app yesterday. The “Treasures” app allows users to view images and videos of more than 100 of the items in the Library’s Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery, such as the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandand and the world’s oldest bible.