We all need some help with foreign languages when we go traveling. Even if you've studied the language at school or you decide to do a quick course before you depart, it’s still worth having a backup. By choosing the right smartphone translation apps you can equip yourself with a pocket translator that could get you out of a sticky situation or just help the whole trip go more smoothly. Let’s run through the best language translation app options.
Google Translate (Free)
You’ll find support for more than 60 languages in this wonderful free app from Google. You simply select the language you want and then you can speak the phrase you want translated aloud or type it in to receive a full translation on screen. You can even have the translation spoken aloud by the app if you like, which is ideal for pronunciation help. You can also copy and paste text into the app or even photograph text and get it translated. The spoken aloud feature only works with a limited number of languages, currently 17 for input and 24 for output. You'll also need a network connection, but you can access a dictionary and translation history even when you are offline.
You can translate words, phrases and sentences for over 50 languages with iTranslate. There is also support for speech-to-text and speech-to-speech if you splash out for the right in-app purchases. The app also includes dictionaries to help you with meanings and provide suggestions. You will need a network connection to use this app. It also gives you the option to email translations or share them via social media.
iSpeak French Screenshots — Photo courtesy of iSpeak French
There are several versions of iSpeak covering French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and various other languages. It does cost a couple of dollars and it’s only available for the iPhone or the iPad. The attraction of iSpeak is the text-to-speech function, so you can type in what you want to translate and then have the app say it out loud for you. The ability to tweak the speech volume and speed really helps you understood and the voices are crystal clear with perfect accents.
Jibbigo (Free, $4.99 for offline translators)
We’ve included Jibbigo because it offers offline speech translation. That means that you can get your speech translated to speech in your chosen language even without a connection. The basic app is free and offers online translation, but if you want to unlock a language pack for offline translations then it will cost you $4.99 for each one. It’s easy to use – you just speak or type your phrase and the app translates it for you and can speak it out loud.