App of the Week – Google Translate

Mon Dieu! Google's free translation service is now available free for iPhone and iPad

Price: free

Platform: iOS

Sacré bleu! Caspita! Thien dang, even! You can tell we’re shocked that Google allowed something as awesome as Google Translate to find its way to the iOS platform. But make no mistake about it, this is Google’s full translation service, now freely available on your iPhone or iPad.

You’ve probably used Google Translate on your desktop but a smartphone is where it really shines. You start by selecting a pair of languages from two pull-down menus. There are a Heinz-like 57 to choose from, including Latvian and Icelandic, although sadly not yet Klingon. Then simply type in a word or phrase and hit Go.

Results pop up instantly in beautifully-rendered Helvetica, and you can tap on a full-screen icon to flip into landscape mode and blow the phrase up for others to read. If there’s speaker icon (found in 23 languages), Google Translate will speak your phrase out loud. The quality of this varies: Italian and French are simply superb, for instance, while Hindi and Dutch come out a little robotic.

That’s not all. 15 languages, including most Euro tongues, Chinese and Japanese, also accept spoken input. Impressively, this is well up to the quality of the latest Android voice apps, and is bound to dent Android’s reputation as the go-to platform for the terminally touch-shy.

Of course, Google Translate is not terribly useful if you find yourself tongue-tied away from web access. Having said that, the app does allow access to your translation history offline (you can also ‘star’ favourite translations for speedy lookup). Overall, an essential app for any traveller. Bon voyage!