Imagine an iPhone app that can instantly translate written text between languages in real time. It sounds like science fiction, but Word Lens (free) does exactly that. We were wowed by the app back in 2010 and now its parent company, Quest Visual, has been purchased by Google. The immediate result is that World Lens is now free. Additionally, Language packs that were formerly available via in-app purchase are now free as well.

I tried the app by searching for foreign language signs (using Google Images, naturally) and viewed the images on my Mac screen. Then I snapped some pix using Word Lens and wow, it worked!

Gallery | 3 Photos

Word Lens for iOS

Apple was so impressed with the app that it became part of its recent "You're more powerful than you think" advertisement that promoted the iPhone 5s.

Quest Visual announced the sale today, and I'm eager to see what Google has planned for it.

Grab this app now that it is free. It's great for travelers and anyone else who needs a quick translation. Word Lens needs iOS 6.1 or later. It's a universal app and it is optimized for the iPhone 5.

This article was originally published on Tuaw.