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Google Translate iOS app can now translate your handwriting

The latest version of the app can recognize handwritten text in up to 49 different languages.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Google Translate for iOS has just added handwriting recognition to its lineup of language skills.

Released Thursday, Google Translate version 2.0 for iOS lets you handwrite characters in the language of your choice, enabling them to be translated into your native tongue. The feature supports 49 different languages. But users with the standard US keyboard may find it most useful for writing text in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and other languages not based on the Latin alphabet.

Simply handwrite each character, and Google Translate displays it at the top of the screen. Click on the checkmark when done, and the app translates your word or phrase. As always, you can see the translation and then click on the speaker icon to have it read aloud to you.

The latest version of Google Translate also adds support for seven new languages: Bosnian, Cebuano, Hmong, Javanese, Khmer, Lao, and Marathi. The interface itself has been streamlined, so you should find it easier to move around and access key features.

A Google blog post on Thursday used a few examples to describe the new enhancements. Google Translate requires iOS 5.1 or later and is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.