There may be no Google Goggles app available for BlackBerry phones, but its users can now have the same kind of image-to-text translation Android and iPhone owners have been enjoying, thanks to the beta release of Shape’s Photo Translator for BlackBerry.
Just like the translation mode of Google Goggles, Photo Translator uses your smartphone’s camera to snap a pic of a sign, book, or poster – anywhere you’d find foreign text. After a quick run through an OCR engine, that image is converted to machine-readable text. From there, it’s nearly trivial for modern software to translate phrases into the language of your choice. Shape supports all the big ones, including French, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
Granted, all the individual steps of this conversion are pretty simple, but having a push-button solution that does it all could prove invaluable when traveling abroad.
If you’re worried about Shape’s effort measuring up to Google’s, take comfort in knowing that Shape uses both Google’s OCR engine as well as its translation software. The free beta of Photo Translator for BlackBerry runs through December 15; there’s no word on what the final version will cost. A BlackBerry with an auto-focus camera is required.