Do you need to travel internationally for business? Do you have a multilingual workforce?
There are some great translation apps for mobile devices that can make global business travel easier. They can also facilitate communication with workers or family members of workers who either don’t speak English or who have limited English proficiency. While these tools have some limitations and shouldn’t be relied on as a sole source for translation, they can be useful in a pinch. And fun, too!
iTranslate is getting rave reviews. A free version is available on iPhone, iPad and Androids, but for $2.99 there’s a powerful voice recognition feature. It’s available for more than 60 languages. The free version offers Text-to-Speech translation. You can choose from different dialects, choose a male or female voice and even control the speaking rate. It also comes with a dictionary. Don’t know what language you’re dealing with? Use the Detect language feature and iTranslate will tell you. For a premium subscription of $2.99, get Voice Recognition that allows you to speak instead of type. The app will transform it into text and translate it into you chosen language – you will get both a text and a spoken version. The downside is that you have to have an Internet connection – which can sometimes be a problem when you travel.
For offline translations, Languages to the rescue. This is a companion dictionaryapp for iPhones that works completely offline when you download the dictionaries. You can type or browse by letter or by scrolling. It has a quick, clean, easy interface. You can download only the dictionaries you need and keep the others on the shelf until you need them. It’s a great value for .99.
Google Translate – it’s free and it’s available for iPhones, Androids and other smartphones. It supports more than 60 languages and several input methods, including text, handwriting, voice, and OCR. Plus, you can download language packs and get offline support for when you aren’t connected to the Internet. There are also desktop tools available and you can keep up with innovations at the Google Translate Blog.
More translation tools:
- 10 of the Best iPhone Apps for Translating Languages – Some of these have Android versions, as well
- Review: Apps that Keep You from Getting Lost in Translation
- 15 Mobile Translation Apps for the International Businessperson
Be careful of the limitations
Machine translation has improved dramatically in recent years, but as the Translation Blog by Transpanish explains, computer-based translation doesn’t capture the complex nuances of culturally correct translations created by humans. Precision and subtlety can be lost. Not to mention that if you don’t have command of the language, you have no way of verifying the information accuracy. The blog says that these types of translations should never be left up to any machine translation tool:
- Sales and marketing texts requiring both linguistic and cultural understanding
- Patent translations or other technical literature where accuracy carries great importance
- Medical and pharmaceutical texts, particularly when such information may mean a matter of life or death
- Legal texts such as contracts, court orders, and wills, where any error in the text may have profound legal implications
- Any document that represents the public face of your business or organization, including websites, brochures, manuals, etc.
- Translation Outreach and Bilingual Employees: Two Halves of a Whole
- The Risks of not Providing Safety Information in Workers’ Languages
- Should Translation Apps Be Used by Emergency Personnel?
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