As people plan their travels and vacations, a specter eventually arises: The dreaded language barrier. The more exotic the location you or your family pick, the more difficult communication will be. Enter the growing number of handy mobile language translator app services that help you communicate on the fly or learn other languages, directly from your favorite mobile device. This software can make the hardest part of your trip a breeze, so pick one up before you buy your ticket.
8 Great Language Translator Apps
Here are some of the latest, greatest and most portable language translator app downloads available for your phone.
1. iStone Travel Translation
The iStone app, available on iOS, seeks to provide an instant translation service to hassled travelers that just want to quickly solve their language related problems. Download the app and you can choose from around a dozen common languages (each costing about $3 for separate downloads). The screen then offers several simple categories, from “Introduction” to “Ask Directions” and “Shopping.” These provide you with key phrases you need to communicate, right in your hand. Think of it like a highly responsive digital phrase book.
While iStone is designed to help travelers on the go, Duolingo is designed to help people quickly practice a new language before traveling at all. This software is great for a family planning an extended vacation or an expat getting ready for an assignment. Available in mobile versions of both iOS and Android, Duolingo takes a modern approach to teaching, with awards, visuals, and easy games that teach you key phrases and basic words in a casual but effective way that you can practice in your downtime.
SayHi Translate is an iOS app with an extra-intelligent take on language services. Depending on your subscription services, you can access dozens of different languages and dialects. Speak into the microphone, and the app will understand what you say and then speak it back in the requested language. It can function as your own personal translator – although it may not be as useful in the middle of a crowded bazaar as it would in a quieter hotel lobby.
4. Translate Professional
In many ways Translate Professional is an iOS app very similar to SayHi, but with two key differences. First, it only comes in 11 languages, limiting its usefulness a little. Second, you type in what you want the app to say, and then click on the appropriate phrase or read it to the best of your ability.
5. Google Translate
Google Translate is an Android/iOS app with a couple features that travelers will find very handy. First – as Google searchers probably already know about – the app will help you translate website languages that you do not understand, up to 80 different languages. Second, it can do the same thing for speech and handwriting, which means you can plug in signs, menus and other seen phrases directly into the app and have it translate them for you when you are not sure what you mean.
iTranslate offers voice input and output translator options for 80 languages and all major operating systems. However, what really makes it unique are the extra features that many other apps do not have, including high-speed gesture controls and the ability to change native writing into English words for easier personal translation.
Many language translator app services only offer one-way voice translation services, so you can make yourself understand but voice translation back into English requires a reset of the system. Vocre stands out because it allows a more real-time conversation between two languages, translating both sides as the dialogue progresses. However, this useful functionality comes at cost: Vocre lacks other features that might prove useful when traveling.
WorldNomads is a unique entry, because the brand is actually a full travel service. Instead of offering a single translation or phrase book guide with your pick of languages, WorldNomads offers a separate mobile guide for each language. Download it (most versions are free) and read up on a plan flight or in the care to learn the basics of the language yourself – a useful feature if you would rather depend on your own skills out in the field.
Photo Credit: Robert Scoble