A man uses a Google vocal translate app on his smartphone during a Google promotion event at the City of Fashion and Design (Cite de la mode et du design) in Paris / THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

App works by cramming a super-computer that thinks like a human into users’ pockets, Google engineer reveals

Google Translate has got yet more clever — adding 20 extra languages, which can all be recognised using just the camera and don’t need an internet connection.

The app could already recognise seven languages, just by pointing a camera at text. But now the real-time voice translations are “a lot faster and smoother”, and the total languages has been increased to 27.

The app now features languages including Bulgarian and Catalan, all the way through to Turkish and Ukrainian.

The company said that it has sped up the translations by using “convolutional neural networks”, or computers that can learn like humans. Google has been showing off a range of applications for such computers, including bizarre images that were created by forcing pictures through them the wrong way.

The new speed also helps the translations in areas with bad mobile networks, Google said.

The updates are coming to Android and iOS, and will be rolled out “over the next few days”, the company said.

Google has also been beefing up the translation using “Translate Community” — a site launched a year ago where users can pitch in translations to help the tool learn.

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