When traveling to foreign countries that don’t speak English, the language barrier is often the most troublesome problem that travelers have to face. But not everyone can hire a professional translator, and even fewer people need to. A modern Android smartphone loaded with a selection of translation apps is often more than enough to help you get around and communicate your ideas.
This list of top seven best Android translation apps for your next business travel or vacation contains a wide selection of apps, each offering a slightly different way how you can make sense of a foreign language.
Next up, we’re looking at the much loved Translate All app. With over ten million downloads, Translate All has done an excellent job at bringing bilingual conversations to life. Just like some of the other translators on our list, Translate All supports over sixty different languages.
Reviewers are super happy with Translate All, even mentioning that they’ve been able to have a conversation in four different languages with it. That said, you should have no problem using this one every day for business, travel and education.
The interface is simple and clean, and is really easy to use, even for those that are just picking it up. Get it yourself for free here.
Up next, we’re looking at Microsoft Translator. Not to be outdone by Google, Microsoft has built its own robust translator for identifying words and sentences in over sixty different languages. You can very easily translate text, voice, conversations, camera photos and screenshots. One of the cool things about Microsoft Translator is that you can also download languages for offline translation for free to use when you travel.
One of the biggest problems with translators is that they may not be so easy to use when you travel abroad, simply because you’re not always going to have a great Internet connection in those countries. That’s why that offline translation is so handy.
Microsoft Translator is powered by cutting-edge technology used in many of Microsoft’s services already; however, Microsoft Translator was also built with help from some of Microsoft partners, including Twitter, Yelp, and even WeChat.
Probably one of the coolest features here is the voice translation to translate speech. With it, there is a split-screen mode for two participants having a bilingual conversation, allowing two people to have a conversation without a physical translator. Give it a download and take it for a spin!
Google Translate is the most popular translation app on Android. Many Android smartphone and tablets come with the app already pre-installed, and very few users decide to uninstall it. Why? Because it can accurately translate between 103 languages by typing, 37 by taking a picture of text, 52 without internet connection, and 32 using two-way instant speech translation.
Being the master of big data that Google is, the translation engine that powers Google Translate relies on a wealth of information from real users of the app to constantly improve the accuracy, delivering very natural translations that sound as if they came from a mouth of a native speaker.
With every translation, you have the options to save it to your personal phrasebook or use the app’s built-in text-to-speech feature to say it out loud, so you don’t have to embarrass yourself with your Japanese pronunciation. Speaking of Japanese, Google Translate supports handwriting for 93 languages, allowing you to make, at least, some sense of that puzzling restaurant menu.
With the latest update, Google is “putting Neural Machine Translation into action with a total of eight languages to and from English and French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish,” explains Barak Turovsky, product manager and user experience leader for Google Translate, in his blog post. “With this update, Google Translate is improving more in a single leap than we’ve seen in the last ten years combined.” The company eventually wants to roll Neural Machine Translation out to all 103 languages, which will be a huge event for all travelers and high-school students.
Alongside Microsoft’s translation app, iTranslate is the best alternative to Google Translate there is. Where Google Translate employs sophisticated Neural Machine Translation to deliver accurate results, iTranslate takes a more straightforward approach: The app lets you select from a list of options for each word, giving you a dictionary definition for every option. This works great if you already have some knowledge of the language you are trying to translate but need some help to fill in a few gaps here and there.
The list of supported languages has over 90 entries with natural voice output and voice input for each of them. Depending on your pronunciation, the voice input feature can save you a lot of time and spare you the need to type everything out word-by-word. With the voice output, you can choose a male or female voice and even control the speech rate.
iTranslate is available for free on the Play Store. Keep in mind that the free version of the app is supported by ads and has an annoying translation limitation. To get rid of both, you can purchase iTranslate Premium as an in-app purchase.
Even the most sophisticated machine translation apps, such as Google Translate or iTranslate, have their limitations. Those are mostly easy to glance over, but there are situations in life when accuracy is paramount. You may lose your wallet in a foreign country and need to communicate with the local police, rent an apartment for a few months, or handle an urgent business problem with a foreign customer. Situations like these demand a professional translator. But how do you find a good one on time and without breaking the bank? The answer is Takeasy, the world’s first remote, real-time live human translation service provider.
To use the app, you must first choose the language you want to translate from and the language you want to translate to. Then, the app will match you with a suitable translator, allowing you to solve your language problems anytime and anywhere. If you are really happy with the translator, you can favorite him or her for easy access.
The app supports audio, picture, and text translation for Chinese (Simplified & Traditional), English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. More languages will be added later. The app originally supported 27 languages, but the developer has decided to reduce the quantity in favor of more features, such as the outbound life assistant and private teacher.
Collocations, sequences of words or terms that co-occur more often than would be expected by chance, are a real pain for non-native speakers. Is it “heavy rain” or “strong rain” or “big rain?” We as native speakers know intuitively, but those who have learned the language later in life are left guessing. Reverso Translation Dictionary contains a huge database of real-life examples and a powerful linguistic search engine, allowing you to look up how words and phrases are used in official documents, movie dialogs, newspaper articles, product descriptions, or on websites.
As such, Reverso is perfect for professionals who often use highly technical terms and professional jargon. The app contains specialized terminology for business, finance, medicine, and a variety of technical fields. The included phrasebook allows you to save frequently used words for later use, and the flashcard feature helps you memorize them more efficiently.
As of now, Reverso supports instant translation in 11 languages (Spanish, French, Italian, English, Portuguese, German, Polish, Dutch, Arabic, Russian and Hebrew), but more are expected to come in a near future.
Knowing what to say is just one half of the equation; you have to also know how to say it. The previous apps on this list can help you with the former part of the equation, while Forvo is here to help you with the latter. With its huge database of more than 3.5 million pronunciations from native speakers of over 325 languages, Forvo is the only pronunciation app you will ever need.
It allows you to instantly compare different accents for the same word in the same language, listen to male or female voices, keep track of your recently listened to pronunciations, and, most important, record pronunciations in your native language and help other learners.
If you travel to foreign countries a lot, translation can often be the most difficult aspect of your trip, especially if you’re going to countries with an entirely different culture, such as China or Japan. That’s where Android translation apps come in — download one on your smartphone, and you can make the language barrier so much easier when you’re out and about. It might not help you in conversation a whole lot, but it can help you see what’s going on in menus, advertisements, billboards, and more.
What’s your favorite translation app for traveling abroad? Let us know in the comments section below.