You know the feeling. You're in a foreign country, but you haven't mastered the foreign language, and you just want a quick, easy way to translate signs and menus.
An iPhone app released to Apple's App store Thursday now has a solution.
Taking translation tools to a whole new level, Word Lens uses the iPhone's built in video camera to translate printed words in real-time.
Just pull up the application and look at the words you want to translate through the iPhone. Instantaneously, the words appear on the screen in the language you understand.
The application itself is free, but the in-app dictionaries cost $4.99 each. At the moment, the app offers only Spanish to English and English to Spanish. (It's compatible with the iPhone 3Gs, the iPhone 4 and the iPod Touch with video camera.)
Even though the application has only been out for about 24 hours, it's already scoring rave reviews.
A Wired magazine reporter said it was "quite honestly, one of the most amazing things I have ever seen."
TechCrunch likened the application to "magic."
"This is what the future, literally, looks like," it said.
The app's founders, Otavio Good and John DeWeese, took two and a half years to build the app, which relies on Optircal Character Recognition technology, TechCrunch reported.
"It tries to find out what the letters are and then looks in the dictionary. Then it draws the words back on the screen in translation," Good told the popular tech blog.
If you're planning to head out of the country -- or just out of town -- for the holidays, a slew of smartphone and Web applications want to help make your travels as painless as possible. Check out seven of our favorite travel apps below.
After his own frustrations with airline baggage limits, frequent flier Luke Dudley decided to create a Web tool and iPhone application to help travelers avoid airline baggage fees.
Luggage Limits is a simple calculator that lets users type in their airline, departure airport and arrival airport to figure out how much checked and carry-on luggage they can bring for free, and compare costs for excess baggage across 175 airlines. It includes information for all ticket classes (not just economy), including frequent flier club members.
"Every time I'm at the airport, I see someone rummaging through their bags on the floor, trying to adjust the contents so they won't be over the weight limit. Frazzled travelers are a captive audience for airline baggage fees because there's not much else they can do at that point other than pay the fee," Dudley told AOL News. "You can't just leave your bags behind."
The Web-based calculator is free and the iPhone application is $2.99.
If you want to minimize your time talking to TSA agents at the airport, download the agency's free iPhone application and take a look before you get in the security line.
The application lets travelers look up the approximate wait times for the security lines at their airports, as well as see airport delays across the country.
It also includes a "Can I Bring?" search tab that helps fliers figure out what they may and may not bring on board.
For the traveler who needs some help staying organized, TripIt makes it easy to manage itineraries for several trips at once.