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Google Goggles Grows a Bigger Brain

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Last month, a mobile app debuted to wide eyes and dropped jaws. It redefined what was possible for not only smartphones but modern technology as a whole. It confirmed, for cynics like myself, that we are truly living in the future.

That app was Word Lens -- a visual, real-time English-Spanish translator. Currently only for the iPhone.

Word Lens definitely upped the ante for image recognition software to feature some nifty tricks -- but translating Spanish signs by redesigning them into English is a pretty high water mark. Well, Google recently updated its Goggles app and although its tricks haven't hit Word Lens-level amazement, its uses are no less handy.

Google Goggles uses the camera on Android devices and identifies objects as varied as landmarks to oil paintings to wine labels. Users may also scan a product's barcode in order to find which location offers the best price. It's a helpful app, indispensable for any Android user, but it could always be improved.

With the latest version, Google sped up the identification process and broadened its knowledge. Google Goggles can now identify photos from ads and direct you to information about the product. Simply scan a magazine published since August of last year and the app displays results related to the brand.

Additionally, showing off some Word Lens swagger, Google Goggles can now solve Sudoku puzzles with a snapshot. Sure, it'll ruin the fun of mulling over rows and columns for hours, but it can come in handy during those rare occasions of one-upping a self-professed Sudoku master.

And you have to admit, those guys need to be taken down a peg.

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