Heading Abroad? Here Are Our favourite Translation Apps To Help You Get By

English Sign

Photo: Niklas Barsk via Flickr

With apps like Word Lens being released that translate languages on signs right before your eyes, the notion of learning new languages and visiting foreign countries is changing.But until the point where we can all use universal translators (a la Star Trek), translator apps can be invaluable on trips to other countries or just a trip to the local Japanese fish market.

We pick our favourite translator apps to help you on your journey.

Google Translate translates your words as you speak into your device's mic

Google Translate has a database of 50 languages that you can translate in and out of using words, or using your device's microphone.

One killer feature in Google Translate is that while you cannot translate without an internet connection, you can 'star' favourite translations and phrases and keep them for offline viewing.

Price: free on the App Store and Android Market

Jibbigo's expansive library of translations is available offline

Jibbigo is a translation app featuring an offline database of over 40,000 words that you do not need an internet connection to access.

Featuring an adaptive voice-recognition system and dead-simple interface, Jibbigo is a winner. Jibbigo was featured as one of Travel and Leisure's 'Best Travel Apps of 2010,' and is lauded by reviewers for it's speech-to-speech translations.

One sticking point we have with Jibbigo is that they offer many apps--each offers one translation service, each costs another $4.99.

Price: $4.99 (limited time) on the App Store and Android Market,

Interpret is a free translation app that uses both Google and Bing translation engines

What makes Interpret great is that it not only translates in an out of 50 languages for free, but it supplements results from Google Translate with results from Bing as well.

App Store reviewers claim that Interpret is the best free translator in the App Store, and we are inclined to agree. Lastly, Interpret lets you share your translations via email, Facebook, and Twitter. Requires internet connection.

Price: free from the App Store

Ultralingua has an amazing interface, regardless of your iDevice

Ultralingua may cost you 20 dollars, but it goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Featuring number translations (ex. 125 to ciento veinticinco), verb conjugation rules, as well as quick links to a dictionary and to Google, Ultralingua is one of a kind. Over 290,000 translations are included in the Spanish-English app, and there is no internet connection required.

The real kicker here is the verb conjugation database--you won't find this anywhere else.

Price $19.99 on the App Store - universal app works for and is optimised for each iDevice

Tap-Translate lets you translate as you read in Safari

Tap-Translate is an incredibly unique translation app because the developers have found a way to embed a little pop-up in your Safari browser that appears any time you want a word or paragraph translated.

Once installed, all you need to do is install the Mobile Safari 'bookmarklet.' When tapped (in the Bookmarks menu), Tap-Translate brings up a non-intrusive translation without the need to switch to the app itself. Requires internet connection.

Price: $1.99 from the App Store and $4.99 from the Android Market

iSpeak uses text-to-speech combined with built-in native accents for realistic translations

iSpeak comes in a variety of languages like the other apps, but what it offers that's different is realistic text-to-speech translations and readings.

All you need to is type words into the box and tap 'Speak it' to hear a translation in a native-sounding tongue--a 'high quality voice' as the developer says.

Price: $1.99 from the App Store

Linguo boasts a huge offline database and 400 audio clips

Linguo first checks its 385,000 entry database for translations, then checks online if need be. This great feature sets Linguo apart from the back, because even if you have a data connection, it's better to save battery and not use it unless it's completely necessary.

Linguo includes 25 languages and the ability to send translation results via email. A Lite version is also available which has all the same features, but lacks the offline database.

Price: $2.99 from the App Store

Odyssey Translator Pro lets you build sentences you'd actually use in real life

Featuring data-free services, dynamic phrase-building, and voice translations to guide you, Odyssey is a real winner.

What makes Odyssey so compelling is that the developers realise that the goal of language is to communicate something--so they built in categories to help you find exactly what you want to say. Use the app to build a sentence starting with 'I would like,' then tap 'travel' to find the most common phrases like 'I would like to buy a ticket.' This is no simple phrase book, however, because Odyssey lets you start with a question and then go from there.

Price: $4.99 from the App Store

Word Lens is a great bet for translating signs and other text you stumble upon

All it takes is one look at the screenshot to say how incredible Word Lens is.

While the translations are frequently botched and inaccurate, common signs you might find are generally spot on. We love the concept of Word Lens, and we look forward to excellent updates in the future.

Price: free from the App Store

Now that you've learned about translation apps....

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