When you travel to a country where English isn’t widely spoken, translation apps can come in very handy. You don’t need to carry a phrase-book with you and everything can be done offline. They are also a lot faster than browsing through a book and contain a lot more information. Meeting people who don’t know your language doesn’t have to be impossible anymore. You should be able to carry a conversation using your mobile device and break the ice easily while trying to speak the foreign language!
We recommend Google Translate as the ideal app. Available for both Android and iOS, this free!! app that also works offline is the best on the market right now. You can do anything from typing in the text you wish translated into and from a multitude of languages or you can just take a picture of something you want translated (a sign on the road, menu, map, etc) and the app will do its magic. This visual translation doesn’t work for too many languages but you can expect more upgrades very soon. There’s also the simultaneous speech mode where spoken word is translated directly through the mobile device’s microphone.
Another app, Waygo should be your alternative especially in Asia. It provides translations for Chinese, Japanese and Korean and just as Google Translate requires no internet connection and offers the option of taking pictures of the text you wish to be translated. You have 10 translations free per day and the unlimited version costs £4, works for both Android and iOS.
There’s also the SMS Translator which is a handy app for when you’re carrying a conversation with a foreigner over text messages. You basically type your text in English, hit the “translate” button and then send it. You can also translate messages you have received into English. The app is free but only works for Android.