Once upon a time, long ago, there lived people who were smarter than their phones. These people didn’t even carry phones with them! And if they went to a foreign land, they either had to learn the language or flip clumsily through a translation book. Oh, the humanity! But the times, they have changed. These days, all you need in order to read or speak in a foreign language is a smart phone and a translation app. Here are six to make your trip a little easier.
Who's it for? People who travel internationally a lot.
What does it do? Teaches essential phrases (in four slang levels); instantly translate your voice or connect to a live translator. It includes: More than 2,000 phrases per language in 13 languages; more than 30,000 professionally recorded audio files; an instant voice translator in 19 languages; access to a live human translator; a 10,000 word offline dictionary; audio lessons; built-in flashcards and a quiz mode; a “culture crash course” to get familiar with local customs and etiquette; a "Wi-fi Dialer" that allows you to call any U.S. phone number; and more.
Who's it for? The world traveler who wants all the bells and whistles.
What does it do? Google Translate can speak, scan, type or draw to translate in 90 languages. Use the camera to translate text instantly in 26 languages. There is two-way automatic speech translation in 40 languages. Users can draw with their fingers as a keyboard alternative. Download language packs for when you're traveling, or if your connection is expensive or slow. Save translations for future reference. Take pictures of text for higher-quality translations or for languages not supported by instant-camera translation.
All Language Translator
Who's it for? The busy, on-the-go business person in a foreign land.
What does it do? All Language Translator Apps let you translate what you say in more than 80 languages. It features text-to-speech and speech-recognition support. It translates spoken text and saves translations. The app allows you to dictate text instead of typing it. Users also can listen to the translations (text to speech).
Free for Android.
Who's it for? World travelers who want to show off their tech skills.
What does it do? With iTranslate, you can translate words, phrases and text in more than 90 languages. Ever wanted to know what an Australian English woman sounds like? With this app, you can select between lots of different dialects, choose a male or female voice, and even control the speech rate. Among other features, iTranslate transforms non-Latin languages into Latin characters (including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Hindi, Russian, and Thai). Users can send translations via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter.
Free, or $4.99 for premium, for Apple.
Who's it for? Students of Chinese, Japanese or Korean or someone planning to visit countries where those languages are spoken.
What does it do? Waygo only translates three languages (but advertises that more are coming), but it is a great app for people who need to translate Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The app allows users to take a photo of something to be translated, such as menus and signs. Unlike many other translation apps, Waygo does not require an internet connection.
Who's it for? This app is for the person who doesn’t want any frills, just a box to write in a word or phrase.
What does it do? It consists of two menus. One has two bubbles where you can choose a language from the company’s database. Type whatever you want translated in the top bubble, hit translate and it will appear in the bottom one. Press the squiggle in the middle to switch the languages. To see your search history, just go to the clock in the middle of the bottom menu ad you will see a list of everything you’ve done recently.
There is a free version, but if you want unlimited text-to-speech, a list of common phrases in various languages or to get rid of ads, you can download iHandy Translator Pro for $1.99 for Apple.