Google (s goog) today released an official iOS version of its Google Translate app. The application is a free download, and lets you translate more than 50 languages through text-based input, or up to 15 by speaking into your device. The app can also read translated sentences aloud using a synthesized voice in 23 different languages.
The app features a minimalist interface with the same barebones design I’ve come to expect from official Google apps, and it works particularly well with Translate, since you’ll probably be using it most quickly while trying to communicate in unfamiliar surroundings. Developers clearly had this scenario in mind when the designed the app’s translated text box, which displays the phrase in a fairly large font. You can even tap an icon to expand the translated phrase to take up the full screen in landscape mode, making it perfect for showing to others.
Google Translate also provides the ability to star favorite or frequently used phrases for quick access, and a dictionary component that will show alternate phrasings that convey the meaning of your phrase more accurately, despite not being exact translations. The synthesized voice actually pronounces things pretty well, at least in English and French, the only two languages I can understand, and it recognized even my mumble-speak in both languages with little difficulty, though my rusty French resulted in the occasional strange guess on the part of the software.
In short, while it can’t translate text via photo like Word Lens, it does a great job with basic conversation and informational communication, and would’ve been great to have when I lived in Japan. This is a must-download for tourists and friendly strangers alike.
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