Google has announced that one of Android's flagship apps, Google Goggles, has been given an upgrade that offers auto-translation facilities to users.

All you need to do to use it is point your phone's camera at the phrase in question, draw a box around it on the screen, then hit the shutter button. If Google can read the text and translate it, then the appropriate translation will pop up on the screen. It's available to users running Android 1.6 or above, so HTC Hero owners are out at the time of writing.

Currently, the app can recognise English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, and translate them to many more languages. Google is working on other Latin languages, but says that its ultimate goal is to extend support to non-Latin languages too. Other improvements in Goggles include better barcode recognition, the ability to scan local images, better UI and the ability to recognise more products and logos.

Google said, in a blog post, "Computer vision is a hard problem. While we are excited about Goggles v1.1, we know that there are many images that we cannot yet recognise. The Google Goggles team is working on solving the technical challenges required to make computers see. We hope you are as excited as we are about the possibilities of visual search".