Word Lens – Review

On December 31, 2010

App Type: Uncategorized

Word Lens – Review

Our rating:

By: Quest Visual

Version #: 1.0

Date Released: 2010-12-16


Price: 0.00

User Rating:

Word Lens is one of those must-have, brilliant apps in concept. Kudos to the creators for such a unique yet obvious idea. The execution, however, still needs work. I’m not sure if that’s a result of the program or due to limitations of the iPhone hardware.

The app is simple to use. Launch it and point it at a sign (it must be block letters. No handwriting). The app will instantly translated the language and the translation will appear on screen. The app itself is free to download (currently), but only comes with OCR software that will either show words in a mirror-image reversal or erase them altogether. Currently the app only has translation mechanisms of English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English and each of them cost five dollars. To say the least, the limited OCR translations is a bit disappointing. I was at least hoping for Japanese-to-English.

In this review I used the reversal of letters feature in the free version and it ain’t perfect. Many cases where the words didn’t quite reverse or a similar word but not the same word was shown in reverse. This could be due to limitations of the camera and limited processing power within the iPhone. This sort of on-the-fly translation takes a massive amount of processing. It could only get better over time. I have an iPhone 4 and I can only imagine how poorly this program works on previous generations.

In short, it’s worth a look but the program needs work. I would probably buy it anyway and hope that future updates make the translations a little closer to perfect.

Quick Take


Would I Buy Again:Probably.

Learning Curve:Low.

Who Is It For:Those who want to read foreign language signs in their own tongue.

What I Like:Easy to use. Excellent concept.

What I Don't Like:Execution could be better. Limited translation choices.

Final Statement:Language translation on the fly has gone to the next level.

Read the Developer's Notes:
 Instantly translate printed words from one language to another with your built-in video camera, in real time! Use Word Lens on vacation, business travel, and just for fun.

Language pairs currently available with in-app purchase: 

- Spanish to English (Launch Sale: 50% Off - expires Dec 31)

- English to Spanish (Launch Sale: 50% Off - expires Dec 31)

Try out the included modes first so you can see the technology in action:

- Reverse Words (spell all words backwards)

- Erase Words (advanced digital white-out technology)

Word Lens gives you translation on the go:

- NO NETWORK required - results appear immediately on your video screen when you need it, anywhere in the world.

- Easy to use, like the regular camera

- Look up translations by typing them in, too

Get the best quality out of your translations:

- best used on clearly printed text (e.g. signs, menus)

- does NOT recognize handwriting or stylized fonts

- it's not perfect, but you can get the general meaning!

- keep text in focus by holding it at least one hand-length away

Device requirements:

- iPhone 4, iPhone 3gs, or iPod Touch with video camera 

- iOS 4.0 or later

*** iPhone 3gs and iPod Touch do not have zoom or flash light features

*** iPod Touch camera does not have auto-focus feature

We'd love to hear your feedback! Email us at:

[email protected]

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bradt has written 504 awesome app reviews.