Google Translate for Android gets conversational

App adds ability for people who speak different languages to carry on a real-time translated conversation.

Google's new conversation voice translator. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

Google announced an update on Wednesday for its Translate app for Android that promises faster speech translation, support for more languages, and an updated user interface.

Perhaps the most attractive portion of the update is the ability for people who speak different languages to have a real-time translated conversation. The translation process involves touching the app's microphone and rotating the screen to switch between the languages.

A Google demonstration of the new feature in action:

The update adds support for Hebrew, Javanese, and Esperanto to the app's handwriting feature, allowing users to write a word or character they don't understand on the screen of their smartphone or tablet for immediate translation.

Language support for Malay and Ukrainian have been added to the app's camera translation feature, which allows users to translate text using only their device's camera lens. Employing Google Goggles' optical character recognition (OCR) technology, the app translates words or characters captured in images with a brush of the text.

Google also touts the app's new "sleek" user interface. The company said it's rolling out the update to the Google Play store on Wednesday and Thursday.

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