Google has given its much-loved Translate service a lick of paint and a bucket of useful new features. The service can translate between 51 different languages - meaning 2550 language pairs - which Google claims represents over 98% of internet users in the world today.

There's a new layout, but the real stars of the show are the instant translation, phonetic input and text-to-speech engine, all of which are shown in the video above. The first allows you to see a translation of your text as you type it - in the same way as Google can display results before you finish typing a query.

The third means that you can hear translations spoken by clicking a little speaker icon. But the second one is the biggy - for Arabic, Persian and Hindi you can type words as they sound to convert them to native script in that language. That could be pretty useful if you're not packing a native keyboard.

Google says "We hope these improvements will make reading, learning and communicating in foreign languages easier and more fun". Do you agree? Tell us in the comments.