If you’re a businessman or frequent traveler, you’ve had your share of Language barrier epic-fails. Ever wanted to ask someone where the nearest sports bar was, but never succeeded because the person you asked doesn’t speak a word of English and the only words you know of the local language is yes, no and a few grunts? The book with the maps you purchased at the airport doesn’t seem to get you anywhere, and you’re stuck with sign language and utter frustration.
Or, what if the car you rented had a GPS system, but it was talking to you in another language and there’s no English setting in sight? You know it’s probably hidden deep in the options menu, but how would you navigate to it? Grab a random person in the street and ask if they can tinker with your car’s GPS? Good luck with that!
Would you rather hire a website translator for professional services? That’s too much for a car’s GPS system, don’t you think? Don’t worry. You’re not stuck in the mud. There are ways you can get around this seemingly impossible conundrum and salvage what sanity you have left, so don’t pack your bags and head home just yet.
You can salvage your trip by:
- Getting a new smartphone or phablet that has GPS, WIFI and a SIM card slot. When there isn’t WIFI, at least you can use you carrier’s service, assuming the country you’re in supports your carrier and has reliable mobile internet.
- Download a Translation App you can use online or offline.
It really doesn’t get any simpler than that. By having a smartphone in your pocket armed with a translation app, menus, road signs and directions can be easily deciphered and understood with just a few clicks. If all this sounds tooTrekkie to you, it’s because it is! We are at a point in time where our tech is gaining in on the stuff we used to only see on Star Trek. Virtual reality systems, windshield navigation, smart watches – you name it, we have it. A translation app isn’t so different:It’s futuristic, and it’s here now.
Meet the Apps
Apps are awesome. Yeah, some of them are worthless piles of adholes that flood your system with advertisements and nag you with in-app purchasing, but there are some notable ones that are free and don’t annoy the heck out of you.
Google Translate(iOS, Android)
One of the better free apps you can download. It’s only available for iOS and Android users, which is a bummer for Windows Phone users who really love Google (doesn’t make sense, but there are a few) and want to use their translation algorithm. This app is pretty straightforward, and is somewhat accurate, although it doesn’t get idiomatic expressions right and some of the colloquialisms that are part of everyday speech get fumbled and jumbled. But hey, it’s an app for crying out loud! Let’s cut it some slack.This app still beats the others handily.
Among the neat features of Google Translate is it lets you converse naturally in any language and the app does its best to translate for you. It comes in 80 languages and you can also use it offline.
Bing Translator (Windows Phone)
Not to be outdone and seemingly out to get payback is Microsoft with its Bing Translator, available for Windows Phone usersonly. What’s great about the Translator app is you have three ways of input: keyboard, camera and voice. The keyboard is pretty easy to use and the voice recognition software is deadly accurate. The camera works by pointing it to whatever you want translated and it will show you the results in real time.It can also be used offline, which is pretty cool. Just download a language pack and you’re set.
Microsoft hit a home run on this one because unlike other apps, where you’d have to download additional apps for the camera and voice functions,with the Translator they bundled everything together in one neat package. This is an awesome app for the Windows platform, and I would advise WMP users to just use this instead of downloading un-official Google Translate apps. And don’t pay for anything either! This app gets the job done.
iTranslate (iOS, Android)
This app has long been an all time favorite over at the Appstore when it comes to translation services. I remember downloading this app when I got my iPhone 3Gs ages ago (so it seems) and it works as advertised. They branched out over to Android during that platforms’ popularity explosion, but is facing stiff competition from Google and other android apps.
In terms of ease of use and features, it can translate over 50 languages, has built in dictionary and voice recognition. It’s very easy to use and intuitive. If you’re using Android and want to just use your camera for translation, you’re out of luck as it can only be downloaded separately on iOS. But for everyday tasks, it does the job well.
You have arrived at your destination
There you have it: three of the top translation apps for every platform. Now, you won’t have an excuse to get lost, so get out there and explore!