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Google Translate just got an awesome upgrade for when you travel

Android apps on a phone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google has begun rolling out a rather neat upgrade to Gboard, making it play more efficiently with the company’s wildly popular Translate app.

All versions of Google Translate let you type out the text you need translated. And while that’s very useful if you’re looking to find out how to ask something in a language you don’t speak, it can be a bit more fiddly if you want to translate a bit of text you’ve seen — if you’re trying to decode a menu, for example.

For languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet, such as Greek or Hebrew, having your regular English keyboard and the 26 letters of the alphabet to hand isn’t much use.

The latest version of the apps recognize this, and will automatically switch keyboards to compensate without you having to do anything. If you pick Greek from the “translate from” drop down, then your keyboard will immediately show characters from the Greek alphabet, ensuring you know exactly what you can expect if you order a moussaka.

Your Gboard will return to its original language once you leave Translate, and if you want it back earlier, you can do so manually by tapping the Globe icon next to the space bar.

While this has been spotted by multiple sites, it appears to be a staggered roll out, with none of Tom’s Guide’s UK staff currently seeing the option in our versions of Gboard, which appear to be stuck at 11.4. Even those using flagship Pixel 6 handsets are yet to see the available update.

9to5Google (opens in new tab) says it’s a feature of Gboard 11.6 (beta) and Google Translate 6.33, and you can check the version number you have yourself by heading to Settings > Apps > See all apps. You could manually download updated APKs, but we would recommend waiting for the official release, which shouldn’t be too far away.

Hopefully, like the automatic translation offered by Pixel Buds, this will make being understood around the world that bit easier, despite the language barriers inevitable with international travel. 

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.