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Translation apps

The 5 Best Language Translation Apps

Let’s face it, learning another language can be hard. However, simple greetings and understanding of a language can show that you respect a country’s culture when travelling and help build business relationships.

With over 15 years providing translation services for over 200 languages, the experts at Absolute Translations understand that language can make international experiences more meaningful. To make your life easier travelling abroad, they have compiled a list of the 5 best language translation apps that are compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

1) TextGrabber

One of the most sophisticated scan and translate tools- TextGrabber. This is an essential app for travellers who find reading other languages daunting. Whether that be reading menus, magazines, receipts, street signs or electronic guides, TextGrabber allows you to point your phone at text and easily digitise it into a translated language of your choice. With over 100+ languages to choose from online, this is a must have scanning app for travellers.

What we like:

  • Easy user interface
  • Uncertain characters are highlighted in yellow. If you click on a word, you can edit it
  • Digitises printed text and translates it very quickly

What we don’t like:

  • Does not support recognition of some more complicated languages e.g. Arabic and Uzbek Cyrillic
  • Text-recognition delay can slow scanning

2) Microsoft Translator

A user review summarises this app perfectly stating that ‘it has the ability to transform the world.’ Microsoft Translator is a free, versatile app that will make it easier to build bridges and forge relationships with other travellers and locals. Renowned for its visual accessibility, users can scan QR codes when joining a conversation, take pictures for image translations, type the text they want translated and speak out loud. The translator is available in both business and consumer versions, as well as being smartwatch compatible to make for easy, on the go translation in any situation.

What we like:

  • Easy to navigate. An extremely user-friendly app
  • Download various languages for no extra cost
  • Can use offline feature and translate without wifi

What we don’t like:

  • Reversing languages does not give as accurate translation
  • Voice translator is not available offline

3) Waygo

When tackling ‘the big 3’ languages (Chinese, Japanese and Korean), Waygo is the perfect app for translation. Not only can this app translate images from your camera roll, but it provides pictures and audio pronunciations of the words you are trying to use. With simplified and traditional versions of the language, Waygo allows users to point their phone at characters and translate it to a language they understand. Furthermore, most of Waygo’s features are offline by default, so there’s no need to worry about roaming overages.

What we like:

  • By default, Capture and Library modes will employ cloud processing for higher accuracy
  • Gives pinyin as well as a translation
  • Ability to translate offline
  • Focus on ‘big 3’ languages allows for more succinct and accurate translation

What we don’t like:

  • Handwritten characters are not recognised
  • Would be great to see more languages being added that don’t compromise on accurate translation

4) iTranslate Voice

An app perfectly designed for flawless voice translation. With this app, travellers will be able to speak over 40 different languages with the help of more than 250 predefined phrases, transcript features that allow you to share your conversation with others and accurate voice translation. Save your favourite phrases in your own phrase brook and immerse yourself in real time language translation that is executed perfectly.

What we like:

  • Carry out one to one conversation in multi-language group chats
  • Incredible voice recognition system
  • Transcripts feature allows you to export or share your conversation within seconds.

What we don’t like:

  • “Updates” have misled many subscribers to sign up for a paid account
  • Less accurate translation with camera

5) Google Translate

The search engine giant has been a long-term favourite for translation, so it is no surprise that it has made the list. Translating 103 languages online and 59 languages offline, Google Translate easily has the widest database of languages. A simple, user friendly app that features text translation, instant camera translation and a phrasebook. However, our favourite feature that differentiates this app from others is the handwriting tool. Users can draw text characters instead of typing, leading to more effective translation and learning.

What we like:

  • A larger language selection online and offline than any other app
  • Additional, interesting features such as instant camera translation, conversation mode for two-way instant speech translation and handwriting
  • Automatically identifies language without selection

What we don’t like:

  • Conversation mode has a few glitches
  • Translations are often too literal, especially for Asian languages.