How To Translate Text With iPhone Camera



Thanks to iOS 16, the iPhone’s camera can translate text without needing to take a picture of it first. Here’s how to perform the magic!


Several years ago, Apple introduced the Translation app in iOS 14. Since then, Apple has been investing more heavily in translation features.

With iOS 16, Apple has finally added live translation into the Camera app on the iPhone. The way live translation works in iOS 16 is pretty simple. Here’s how to do it…

How To Translate Text With iPhone Camera
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How To Translate Text With iPhone Camera In iOS 16

Apple built live text translation into the Camera app in iOS 16 and made it really easy to use. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Camera app and point it at the object that has the text you want to translate (this can be the page of a book, a website on your laptop’s screen, a menu in a restaurant, a street sign – basically anything with text).
  2. Now, instead of taking a picture of what you see on your camera screen, wait until you see the corners of a yellow rectangle appear around the text. When you see that, you’ll find a capture text button has appeared on the camera’s screen. Tap it. This will freeze a temporary image of the text on your camera’s screen.
  3. Select any part of the text you want to translate (just like you’d select text anywhere else in iOS).
  4. In the toolbar that appears, tap the arrow until you see the Translate button, then tap it.
  5. A sheet will slide up that shows you the translation from its default language into another language.

You can then choose to copy the translated text or even open it in the Translation app.

How To Change The Translation Language 

Once you’ve done the above, you now know how to translate text from one language to another. But you might want to translate the text into a different language than the one selected. 

Here’s how to set the language translation for text:

  1. Open the Camera app and point it at the object that has the text you want to translate (this can be the page of a book, a website on your laptop’s screen, a menu in a restaurant, a street sign – basically anything with text).
  2. Wait until you see the corners of a yellow rectangle appear around the text. When you see that, you’ll find a capture text button has appeared on the cameras screen. Tap it. This will freeze a temporary image of the text on your camera’s screen.
  3. Select any part of the text you want to translate.
  4. In the toolbar that appears, tap the arrow until you see the Translate button, then tap it.
  5. A sheet will slide up that shows you the translation from its default language into another language.
  6. Tap Change Language.
  7. On the next screen, tap the language you want the text translated into.
  8. Tap the X button on the language selection screen.

Now you’ll see the select text is translated into your selected language.

What Languages Can iPhone Camera Translate Into?

As of the time of this writing, the Camera app in iOS 16 can translate into the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Mandarin – China mainland)
  • Chinese (Mandarin – Taiwan)
  • Dutch
  • English (UK)
  • English (US)
  • French (France)
  • German (Germany)
  • Indonesian
  • Italian (Italy)
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Russian
  • Spanish (Spain)
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

It’s likely Apple will add more language over time.

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Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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