Google’s Word Lens is a smartphone app that lets you point your camera at text and get an instant translation on-screen. That’s nifty enough as it is when you’re navigating a foreign country, but it gets far more useful when you’re dealing with an alphabet or characters you can’t even read.
On Thursday, Google announced that Word Lens now supports Japanese, meaning you can go to Japan, point it at kanji characters — of which there are thousands — and see what the heck they mean right on your phone’s display.
As Google points out, you could already take a photo of Japanese text and get a translation with the Google Translate app, but Word Lens shows you the translation live as you move the phone around. Even better, it works when you don’t have internet connectivity.