2013 Jan 07 The Waigo iPhone App Conveniently Translates Chinese Menus
The rise of phone-based optical Chinese character recognition is a dream come true for us laowai. I've been using Pleco's USD 14.95 OCR add-on for my translation needs, but if most of your needs originate from your stomach, the free Waigo iPhone app will do the trick.
At least for now, Waigo's main focus is translating Chinese menus, so it probably won't help you with all that homework you've got for class. The software itself is simple to use and surprisingly fast at identifying dishes. It has a flash mode to help brighten the image and you can zoom the box in and out to better frame the characters.
I would, however, like to see some more info beyond just the translated dish names, as sometimes the English versions aren't much help. Take "Aged Godmother Squash," for example. Though it brings a fanciful image to mind and a smile to my face, I'm still left not knowing exactly which dish it's referring to. Lots of Chinese dishes have these inventive names, so mysterious translations like this are a pretty common occurrence. I'd like to see a small note with some background on how the dish is usually prepared.
Still, if you need a bit of quick help reading menus, you can download the app directly here.