Google continues to innovate with its latest version of the world famous translation software
- Translate between 90 different languages without an internet connection
- Compact user interface with keyboard and handwriting modes for text input
- SMS translation for your text messages
- Voice recognition lets you translate quickly and easily in a conversational setting
- The picture mode lets you take pictures of and scan pieces of text for immediate translation
- Keep commonly used words and phrases in your Phrasebook
- Translations are often too literal for native speakers
- Handwriting recognition is not as effective for more complicated writing systems (e.g. Japanese)
Google Translate is a free language translation app for Android, developed by Google, which lets you translate between 90 different languages using a compact and highly intelligent linguistic interface. The software is available to download as a free download.
The Most Comprehensive Translation Tool Ever
Google are unparalleled when it comes to cleverly designed and innovative programs and apps. The latest version of Google Translate once again improves upon the features of its predecessor with even more features and over 90 languages to choose from. Whether you live in a bilingual country, are on holiday, or are learning a new language, Google Translate is an indispensable tool for interpreting and translating both speech and text with very little effort.
Key Features and User Interface
The Android version of Google Translate has a highly compact user interface with a small set of menus to choose from. When you open the app, you will be presented with the two languages you wish to translate between. Touching the white space below will allow you to type in the left language (in this case, English). As you type, a translation will appear in real time, continuously interpreting what you have typed. This input mode also lets you toggle between keyboard and handwriting modes. I have tried this feature for both English and Japanese, and as I assumed recognition of complex symbols such as Japanese kanji has a lower success rate.
In addition to handwriting, Google Translate also has a highly sophisticated speech recognition program, similar to its function in your Google search engine. When you tap the microphone symbol, Google will give you a chance to speak, after which it will translate what you have said as text and audio. As with other translations Google performs, I found that a lot of these were not idiomatic, but rather literal in their translation. While tackling something like language translation is fairly daunting, I would still note this as a flaw of the app, particularly when dealing with complex grammatical constructions and sentences with multiple clauses. To toggle between languages, or to flip them around, simply tap the language at the top of the screen. What remains one of the most impressive features is how many languages the app offers, exceeding 90 languages at the time of writing this review.
One of the most interesting features is the photo feature, with which you can take photos of pieces of text in a select number of languages and Google Translate will translate them immediately
One of the most interesting features is the photo feature, with which you can take photos of pieces of text in a select number of languages and Google Translate will translate them immediately. Since it is not an exact science, you should ensure that image quality is as high as possible and that the camera does not shake. Touching the device will allow you to "scan" for text in the vicinity and will highlight recognized text.
If you use particular types of phrases regularly, perhaps while on holiday, there is the Phrasebook. This highly useful tool allows you to save commonly used generic words and phrases so that you can translate them into any language on the go. If you regularly travel, it's recommended that you fill up your phrasebook with as many common phrases as possible. The SMS translation feature will connect directly to your messenger inbox and translate text messages for you. This is particularly useful if you're communicating with someone in a new language and are unsure what they have said.
The only negative feature of the app is that its translations can sometimes be a bit too literal, often sounding odd to other native speakers. The best way to get around this is to ensure that sentences are simple and that the grammatical constructions you use are as unique as possible. Otherwise, Google might group words together incorrectly and this will lead to a poorer translation.
For what it aims to accomplish, Google Translate is an absolutely amazing translator tool, especially for smartphone users. Being able to translate between 90 different languages from all continents is impressive enough, but the methods provided for translation are also truly remarkable. The simple user interface, with languages at the top, and a small white box for text at the bottom, makes using the app easier than ever. SMS translation, voice translation and image scanning ensure that you're never short of a translation you'll need. If you use a particular phrase often, the Phrasebook even lets you save it for future reference. As with all Google apps, it's easy to use, smartly designed, and works well. The only downside is that translations sometimes appear quite literal to native speakers. However, for a phenomenon as complicated as language, this is to be expected. The app is available to download for free from the Android store now. Why not give it a try?