Google Translate for iPhone a helpful language tool

Feb 17, 2011
Tech

If Google Translate existed when I was in high school, I have a feeling I would have done much better in Spanish class. I barely eked by, but this app could have changed things tremendously, and it probably would have put the numerous translator websites I visited during that time out of business. For starters, […]

If Google Translate existed when I was in high school, I have a feeling I would have done much better in Spanish class. I barely eked by, but this app could have changed things tremendously, and it probably would have put the numerous translator websites I visited during that time out of business.

For starters, translating from one language to another is a breeze. You type in your phrase, and you can then quickly pick the languages you want to translate to and from.  Selections range from the more common — like English, Spanish and French — to more eclectic selections — like Welsh, Urdu and Swahili. You can even flip the languages with the tap of a button.

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The real clincher in making Google Translate so useful is the audio translator. Although it’s not available for all of the languages, it’s fantastic to be able to type in a phrase, and hear it translated, out loud, into a different language. This would be terrifically helpful in a foreign setting, although that also reveals part of the app’s problem.

Google Translate isn’t an archive of phrases. It needs an Internet connection to pull the phrases that are typed into it. That could be a costly proposition if you didn’t have a Wi-Fi connection. You can load phrases into the app by searching for them before going off the grid, but that doesn’t work as well if you suddenly need to know how to say a specific phrase that you hadn’t planned on using.

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The issue of Internet connectivity isn’t enough to detract from what is a very stellar app, though. Being able to create your own personal archive of translated phrases, and then to bookmark them within the app for easy access, is a great idea, and it’s executed quite well.

If you’re going to be encountering an unfamiliar language, you can do a lot worse than Google Translate. Unless you speak in a language you’ve invented yourself, it’ll probably be able to shed clarity on even the strangest of phrases.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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