Living in or traveling to a country which speaks Spanish or French and you don’t?  Look no further than Word Lens.  While there are numerous apps that will provide word by word or sentence by sentence translation, none will do so in real-time using your iPhone or iPad’s camera.  Word Lens does just that.  In real time, simply point your camera at a text of Spanish or French (depending on what pack you have) and the app will quickly translate the language in print to English (or vice-versa).  Read on for more on this app.

Available and Included Languages
Word Lens is a free app, though without an in app purchase, it is pretty useless.  It comes with Demo packs which will erase words or flip them backwards.  However, if you want to actually translate English, Spanish, and French between one another, it will cost you $9.99 for every combination.  Ouch!  The good news is thats the only downside to this translation app at all.

How Does it Work?
Lets use an example here.  Your living in Spain and decide you want to learn to sew.  So, you buy a sewing machine and the manual is in Spanish.  Unfortunately for you, English is your first and only language.  Word Lens is here to help.  Lets take this Spanish Manual below and see how it does in translation.  Focus on number 1 in all photos below.  First in English, then Spanish, then Spanish translated to English.

You can see it is clearly not perfect, but I believe it does a good enough job of translating to a point of understanding.  The best part is watching the app work its magic.  The words switch from spanish to english in real time, once all the words in an area are translated, you simply hit a pause button, (where the play button is now in the third screenshot), and the frame freezes.

There are some added features in the app as well.  On the right of the screenshot, from bottom to top, you can lock the screen.  Above that is the Play/Pause button to capture the screen once the translation is done.  Above that is an “i” which will give app information.  Finally, the top button will take you to a translation dictionary where you can translate word by word (much like other apps).  The Eye with a cross out through it will allow you to hide the translation while held down.  The Camera Button is grayed out when the app is paused, but when its not the button will enable instant options to zoom or turn the light on and off during capture.

Word Lens is incredibly useful if you should find yourself in a country speaking a language you don’t know how to speak.  For everyday life, living in a country which speaks your first language, there are not very many circumstances where you would need to use such an app.  Therefore it falls into a category of apps which are either incredibly useful, or painfully useless.  Given your in a circumstance that makes sense, Word Lens can be your best friend.  If this isn’t the case I would say save your $10.

Word Lens is  available for purchase and download from the App Store.