Foreign travel this year? You need Google Translate

If you are planning on traveling outside the US this year then Google Translate is just the thing to slip into your pocket before you head for the airport.

Offering translations in over 50 languages there’s a good chance that it’s got your back wherever  you land.

Translation is performed by selecting the languages to translate between, entering the text and pressing the Go button.  The text in your target language will then appear below in large text and can even be expanded to full screen.  Touch the small speaker icon and it will speak the phrase with an accent that, while I’m sure funny to natives, is far better than I could muster.

If you’re using an iPhone or Android phone then speech entry is also possible, which might help you with the response you receive from the locals.

The one downside is that for this to work it needs an internet connection.  That’s fine if you can find a wi-fi hotspot, but if you turn on your internet connection while overseas you’re likely to run up a huge data charge by the time you get home.  Then again, if you’re trying to explain to the police why you couldn’t possibly be “The butcher of Paris” it might be worth the cost.

As a travel companion this is one app that you definitely not be without.  It’s free, easy to use, and could avoid this sort of unpleasant interaction with the natives.  

Download the app from here.

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3 Comments

Filed under Education, Free Software, Travel

3 responses to “Foreign travel this year? You need Google Translate

  1. The cost seems to be the limiting factor for the vast majority of travelers, especially with the large number of translators on the market that cost under $150 and do not need Wi-Fi. However, they are all limited in effectiveness to common phrases, which is fine if you need a bathroom. Not so great if you are seeking greater detail. If Google has overcome these shortcomings, they could be setting the stage for ‘the next big thing’ technology-wise. Perhaps the solution is to purchase network minutes in each country you visit. That is much more affordable that remote access to one’s domestic plan.
    The day of the Universal Translator (Star Trek) cannot be far ahead. Great article.

    • Thanks for the comment. Good note about the cost of translators. But perhaps if you were willing to spend $150 on a translator then another options would be to set aside that money for some roaming charges instead. If you just turn on the data when needed it should be possible to keep costs to a minimum.

      Certainly when traveling in Europe it isn’t hard to find a wi-fi hotspot. But Murphy’s law says that won’t be available when you are lost and asking for directions!

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