If you’ve ever encountered someone who doesn’t speak your native language, you know how hard it can be to communicate effectively. Language barriers can be a daily struggle when traveling, living in a new country, and working in some global offices. However, translation apps can help you speak with more confidence.
We think a translation app is one of the most useful apps on your smartphone. They are a great way to learn local languages and discover regional dialects. Most apps have additional features that can help you learn a language, but they can also help you get around an area where the locals don’t speak your language. For example, some apps will allow you to slow down translated audio playback to perfect your pronunciation. Adjusting the playback speed to be slower can be invaluable while learning a language.
Today’s best translation apps offer instant speech and text translations, can work offline, and can save common phrases for quick use. This article will explore our picks for the best translation apps on Earth today. We’ll also look at how to choose the best one for you.
Best Overall Translation App: Google Translate
Our top pick for the #1 Best Overall translation app is Google Translate. We like Google Translate because it can instantly translate up to 130 languages and is compatible with almost any device. Such widespread access and ability are helpful for both students and travelers. Additionally, you can use Google Translate offline, which is very helpful while exploring.
Users can also download common phrases or save past translations to access when needed quickly. One of our favorite features is Translate’s ability to translate text using images, such as photos of road signs or billboards.
Unfortunately, based on our experience, Google Translate isn’t always accurate and will sometimes use incorrect meanings. For example, it may mistakenly translate words like “ship” into “boat” when you actually meant “to ship,” the action of sending a piece of mail with UPS.
|You can easily translate text within photos.||Google Translate is not always accurate.|
|You can get live, real-time translations in over 130 languages.|
|Google Translate is compatible with almost any device.|
Best for Business or Office Use: Microsoft Translator
Our pick for the best translation app for professional use is Microsoft Translator. We chose Microsoft Translator because it translates live conversations across multiple devices in over 100 languages.
Also, Translator can generate live captions for calls and presentations, which is extremely helpful for people who work with global teams. Users can share a code that is specific to the app, and those with the code can jump right in, speak or type, and see translations in real time.
You can easily use Microsoft Translator offline; the app’s machine learning means translations will keep getting more accurate. However, some people report that the app has some issues with syntax translations.
|Microsoft Translator generates live captions for calls and presentations, which work really well for one-on-one or group meetings.||There are fewer available languages when compared to Google Translate.|
|Machine learning helps translations become more accurate.|
Best for Extras: iTranslate
Our pick for the best translation app with all the extras is iTranslate. iTranslate is a translation app with additional features that others on our list may not include. The app can translate over 100 languages, but it can also translate dictation. You can also switch between different dialects within the app. Additionally, we love that users can slow down the audio playback, making pronunciation easier.
iTranslate also includes a dictionary, thesaurus, and a very useful verb conjugator. Conjugating verbs can be one of the most challenging parts of learning a language, so this feature is perfect for students and travelers.
We love the optional keyboard translator, which allows you to text in various languages with anyone. Finally, the iOS version includes two widgets, Phrasebook and Flashcards. These widgets appear on your home screen for immersive, daily learning.
|iTranslate allows you to manipulate translation playback.||Its translations are not always accurate.|
|You can translate images or things like restaurant menus and road signs using your phone’s camera.|
Best for Live Translations: SayHi
Our pick for the best translation app for live translations is SayHi. SayHi is the best app for live translations because it will auto-recognize languages and translate in real time while speaking. Also, it will translate over 100 languages simultaneously while speaking.
You can quickly slow down translated playback for more accurate speaking pronunciations. Finally, SayHi is free to use, and it’s crisp and uncluttered looking, with a friendly user experience. However, you will need an internet connection to use SayHi.
|SayHi has both language and dialect support and handles live translations easily.||You will need a Wi-Fi connection, as you can’t use SayHi offline.|
Best For Accuracy: DeepL
Our pick for the best translation app for accuracy is DeepL. DeepL is one of the most accurate translation apps that also works well on your desktop. You can easily translate PDFs and PowerPoint translations which can be invaluable in office environments.
You can also use DeepL’s AI features to improve your writing with the ability to choose your tone of voice and get suggestions for better grammar. Unfortunately, DeepL only supports about 29 languages, but we’re guessing developers will add more as the app improves.
|DeepL is the most accurate translation app available due to its AI.||DeepL doesn’t support as many languages as others on this list.|
How to Pick the Best Translation App: Step by Step
When choosing the best translation apps, most people take into consideration the following factors:
- Supported languages
- Additional features
Let’s look at each of these criteria in greater depth.
First, consider what language you need to translate. It should be easy to ensure the translation app you want can support the language. Although an app like DeepL supports just 29 languages, Google Translate supports upwards of 130. If the language you need to translate is not one that is more commonly spoken, start your search with apps that support a large number of languages.
Another important factor to consider is the accuracy of the translation app. While most apps won’t get it right 100% of the time, some are more accurate than others. Be sure to read reviews or try out the free trial version of the app if one exists.
The best translation apps will also offer additional features such as offline translation and text-to-speech. Some apps will even translate photos of street signs and restaurant menus. If the app you want has all of these features and is within your price range, you know your next trip or business meeting will have fewer issues due to a communication breakdown.
What to Know Before Buying Translation Apps
Before buying a translation app, you should understand that not every translation will be as accurate as a native speaker’s. In addition, slang, regional dialects, and local accents can hinder the translation process.
Another issue with some translation apps is that they take time. Most will require you to speak or type phrases or sentences, but some can translate entire conversations in real time.
Using Translation Apps: What It’s Like
Despite their drawbacks, translation apps can be a lifesaver, especially if you need directions to the nearest hospital or are hungry and want to try a good local eatery.
While even the best translation apps aren’t perfect, they’re constantly improving. Even if an app could be more accurate, their translations are usually enough for both parties to communicate their point. The bottom line is that they’re much more convenient than lugging around thick and heavy phrasebooks, plus they can help anyone communicate, even if they’re still learning the local language.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Jirsak/Shutterstock.com.