What are the best translation apps for travellers? When Douglas Adams invented the Babel Fish, “a small, yellow, leech-like odd thing” that would help you instantly understand anything said in any language in the whole wide universe, in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, little did he know that 39 years after the radio comedy was first broadcast, such technology would actually exist. New devices and updated translator apps are making it easier to understand a foreign language and are much simpler than “plugging in a fish into your ear”. Though the technology of machine translation still needs the wrinkles ironed out, it’s fun to try out some of these apps and devices when you’re travelling. Here’s a list of some of them. However, do expect errors and misunderstandings—up to 40%, in fact.
Heading to China, Korea or Japan and want an app to read the signboards and menus for you? WayGo fills this need by giving you the English translation for street signs, menus or anything that you point your smartphone camera at. All this without the use of the Internet.
Free for 10 translations per day and a one-time payment of Rs418 for the Pro version. Available in Google Play and App Store. Waygoapp.com.
iTranslate Voice 3 translates conversation between two people using smartphones. So if you’re speaking to someone in Spain, you hear English, and the other person hears you speak Spanish. The feature, called AirTranslate, needs two people talking on two iOS devices. Last updated in December, the app also offers text-to-speech, offline and text translation in 40 languages.
$6.99 (around Rs480) in Google Play and App store. Itranslatevoice.com.
Talk into your iOS devices and hear what you’ve said in a different language. SayHi is designed for instant communication. You can have a conversation with anyone without switching languages, even type rather than speak. The app works for around 40 languages, including Arabic, French, Italian, English and Spanish.
Free in App Store. Sayhitranslate.com.
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