Imagine yourself sitting on the patio of a charming trattoria, gazing at a picturesque vineyard on the first day of your dream Italian adventure. You eagerly open the menu, only to realize that the only Italian you know is from watching “Roman Holiday.” As the server approaches to take your order, you struggle to understand his words, except for the familiar “ciao.” How will you navigate the menu and communicate your desires without understanding or speaking Italian?
Fortunately, it’s 2019, and chances are you have a smartphone by your side. With the help of translation apps and built-in tools, you can effortlessly communicate with people from around the world, regardless of language barriers. Let’s explore our top picks for translation tools that will make you feel like a linguistic globe-trotter.
Siri: Your Multilingual Assistant
The built-in assistant on Apple devices, Siri, is more than just a handy timer or reminder setter. You can even ask her to help you order a bottle of wine in Italian, and she’ll promptly provide the translation. Siri supports translation from English into nine languages, making it a convenient option without requiring additional app downloads. Keep in mind that Siri’s translations rely on internet access, so ensure you have international data or access to local Wi-Fi.
Google Translate: Your Versatile Language Companion
When it comes to free translation apps, Google Translate reigns supreme. This app offers four distinct translation methods, making it one of the most effective tools available. The best part? If you plan ahead and download offline translation files for the desired language, you won’t even need an internet connection for on-the-spot translations. Let’s explore each function in detail to unlock the full potential of this invaluable tool.
Camera Function: Decode the World
Remember that challenging menu you encountered earlier? Google Translate has your back! By utilizing the camera function, you can snap a quick picture of the menu, an airport sign, or even a metro map. After highlighting the text you wish to understand, the app instantly translates it into your native language. The possibilities are endless!
Handwriting Feature: Effortless Translation
Need a quick translation for a word or two? With Google Translate, all you have to do is scribble the characters or letters with your finger in the app. No speaking or typing required! This function proves particularly useful when encountering languages with alphabets outside the familiar Roman script.
Conversation Mode: Seamless Interactions
Imagine effortlessly placing your order at the Italian trattoria. With Google Translate’s conversation mode, you can engage in bilingual dialogue without fear of miscommunication. After each person speaks, the app seamlessly translates both languages, allowing you to converse naturally with your waiter. It’s as if you’re speaking fluent Italian from the start!
Voice Translator: Speak and Understand
Most translation apps offer a standard voice translation feature, and Google’s version comes with an added perk: the ability to detect the language you encounter. If you’re unsure which language you’re hearing, this app can still assist you, provided you’re connected to the internet.
Photo Translator: Unlock the World with Images
Taking Google Translate’s camera function a step further is the Photo Translator app. While not as versatile as the Google app, this tool excels at identifying objects captured through your camera. Can’t remember the Italian word for grape? Snap a quick picture, and you’ll have the answer. Additionally, this app translates text from images, much like Google Translate, although it lacks the voice functions. Keep in mind that this option may come with subscription costs and in-app purchases, potentially making it a pricier alternative.
iTranslate: Seamlessly Connect and Translate
Similar to Google Translate, iTranslate offers many of the same features. However, this paid option distinguishes itself with an Apple Watch version. There’s something undeniably cool, reminiscent of James Bond, about translating seamlessly using your watch while exploring a foreign land. Furthermore, this app integrates into iMessage, enabling instant translation of texts from your newfound international friends.
Conclusion: Embrace Seamless Communication
No matter where your next adventure takes you, technology exists to make your travels smooth and enjoyable. Download one or all of these apps prior to your journey, and you’ll be navigating, speaking, and reading like a local. Ora, dov’è quel cameriere con il mio vino… (Now, where is that waiter with my wine…)