by Mark Kaelin
It doesn’t matter whether you’re negotiating a huge business deal or trying to order a cup of soup, the parties involved must speak, or at least understand, the same language. And while being able to speak several languages fluently is an admirable skill, it’s not one many of us have. That’s why it’s important to have at least one language translator loaded up and ready to go on your mobile smart device when traveling.
In fact, it’s a good idea to have more than one language translator available on all your mobile devices, especially since many are free. Here’s a list of four apps for you to consider. One or all of these could be the difference between making the deal and just ordering the wrong kind of soup.
The first, and probably the most obvious, language translator is Google Translate. This simple and free app can help you translate just about any common phrase you can think of into just about any other language you could possibly need. For travelers, there is one caveat, however.
Google Translate is essentially an extension of Google Search, which means it requires an internet connection to function at its full potential. If you’re in an airport with W-Fi or you’re lucky enough to be in a Wi-Fi enabled airplane, an internet connection isn’t much of a problem. But when you don’t, you’ll face limitations.
Google Translate will translate a smaller set of languages with no internet connection, but it’s much more effective with the internet than without. So, if you’re out in the Chinese countryside, you may require additional translator options.
The Google Translate app is available for Android and iOS smartphones. Of course, the website version of the app is available to any device with a connection and a web browser.
Another popular language translator app available for iOS and Android devices is iTranslate. This app operates in a similar fashion to Google Translate — enter a phrase, click a button and then see and hear the phrase translated into one of 92 languages.
Unlike Google Translate, iTranslate will not work at all without an internet connection. Furthermore, the free version is supported by advertisements, which is a small price to pay for the convenience, but may not be something you desire. To eliminate the ads you can pony up $5 for the paid version.
Voice Translator and Speak & Translate
Sometimes you need an app that does more than just translate text — sometimes you need to carry on a translated conversation. In those situations, you might try Voice Translator if you have an Android device or Speak & Translate if you prefer the Apple iOS universe.
Both apps translate your spoken words into a different language of your choosing and then vocalize the phrase. These apps are designed to help you carry on a conversation with someone who speaks a different language than you do and can be very important when time is of the essence.
Once again, both apps require a connection to the internet to operate with any effectiveness. That means you’d better find a good Wi-Fi hotspot or have good cellular network connections before you start your conversation.
The ability to translate your native language into another language is incredibly important when traveling. It could literally be the difference between a successful trip and one that is a complete failure. This is what your mobile smart device was made for.
Not too many years ago, the best you could do was look up a few words in a book. Now, with the smartphone and an internet connection, you can carry on complete and meaningful conversations with people speaking a different language almost seamlessly. All you need is a few language translation apps and the inspiration to travel.
Mark has been writing and editing stories about the information technology industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.com.See all articles