The best translation apps for world travelers, new language learners, and explorers and scholars everywhere!
Whether you're traveling to new and interesting places or trying to talk to new and interesting people at home, thanks to the iPhone, language is no longer an absolute barrier to communication. While we don't have Star Trek's universal translator - yet! - we do have plenty of apps on the App Store that can help with translation.
Now, translation apps can be expensive, especially when you start dealing with language packs and dictionaries that are only available via additional in-app purchases. So, we've gone through, tested them out, and figured out which are our favorites, and which we think are the absolute best translation apps for iPhone.
With iTranslate Voice, simply swipe up from the main screen and select your input and output languages. Then tap whatever bubble for the language you'll be speaking in and iTranslate Voice will do the rest. AirTranslate is an amazing feature that allows two users both using iTranslate Voice to pair their devices together and speak back and forth. It's a great tool where language barriers are present.
Outside of a decent interface that's just as easy to use as it is to look at, you can also tab on words to see their meanings and different forms of them.
iTranslate Voice is the best choice of translation apps for those new to a language or who aren't at all familiar with a local language. Voice recognition works great and will allow you to easier break down a language barrier faster.
If you aren't looking for an all-out translator but more of a dictionary and knowledge base, Languages is a great deal. Instead of buying different dictionaries, you pay one price and you've got all the dictionaries that Languages includes. There are currently 12 dictionaries included right now.
Languages isn't really geared at users who don't know a foreign language but more as a reference for times that you can't figure out a word or just need your memory jogged. It's the perfect companion for students and a great resource to have while learning. At only $2.99 for a ton of dictionaries you can use while offline, you can't really beat it.
While it's disappointing that Google still hasn't updated Google Translate to support the iPhone 5's interface, it's still a great, if now squat-looking resource. Google Translate supports 64 languages and will speak translations out-loud. There may not be a fancy interface or tons of additional features, but it does what it needs to and it does it for free.
The downside is, you'll need an internet connection in order to use Google Translate. There's no offline mode. However, it's free and a good choice for those who need more than just a pocket dictionary, and the ability to actually translate most of what is spoken to another language.
Made by the same developer as iTranslate Voice, iTranslate doesn't cost you anything and includes most of the same features and dictionaries. Instead of speaking, you'll need to type in your query manually, but for light travelers or those who don't have a need for a translate app often, it more than gets the job done.
You also have the ability to change voices and adjust volume. iTranslate also has in-app purchase options to remove ads and add voice recognition, so if you decide you want to move up, you can. (Though I'd recommend purchasing iTranslate Voice instead of paying for voice recognition through in-app purchase, since it'll save you $1.)
iTranslate is perfect for people who want something a little more robust than Google Translate but don't need the voice recognition features of iTranslate Voice.
If you're traveling somewhere where the signs, menus, and other important information is written in a language other than your own, it can be challenging or even intimidating to get around. Word Lens, while it has its limitations, can help. It works by using your camera to visually translate signs, menus, and other writing back to your native language. Thanks to Augmented Reality, the translated text simply replaces the original on your iPhones live display.
Each language pack is around $5 as an in-app purchase but it's well worth it if you're traveling somewhere and need writing translated.
Okay, so Pixter may not be an actual translation app but it actually does double as one. While Pixter may specialize in optical character recognition, it also has the ability to take the text it recognizes and translate it to a different language.
This can come in handy at times when you need to quickly translate large blocks of text either from a book, magazine, manual, or other written document. Pixter will also save your clips natively in the app for later reference as well. Especially for business people dealing with unfamiliar languages, Pixter can come in very handy.
Those are the best translation apps I've come across for the iPhone. If you've found any others that you've loved, or if you've found creative ways to use your iPhone to help you translate or better understand words, voices, or signs while traveling, let me know!