Best translation apps for iPhone in 2018
The iPhone is a superb tool for when you’re travelling abroad. Not only is it small, lightweight and internet-connected; it has a camera, speaker and microphone, which suddenly opens up a whole range of possibilities, not least real-time translation.
We’ve rounded up some of the best speech, voice and text translator apps for iPhone to help you prepare for your next trip. Some of them work in real time, some of them can translate from images, and some will even work offline – read on to find out which is best for you.
You should always bear in mind that Siri now has limited translation capabilities, which may be worth checking out before you start downloading third-party apps.
Real-time sign translation
Google Translate is one of the handiest apps to have on your iPhone. It translates words you speak, or type, into the app, with support for more than 100 languages, and also lets you download specific languages (though not quite all of them) for offline translation.
But the reason we love Google Translate is because it features one of our favourite app features ever made (and still does it better than most of the apps that have copied it since): Word Lens. With Word Lens you point the iPhone camera at a sign and watch it translated in front of your eyes.
Offline dictionary and translator for iPhone
It’s not the most jaw-dropping app in this collection, but iTranslate is a solid and dependable translation dictionary.
It can translate text in over 100 different languages, and recognise languages almost instantly. It also includes dictionaries, lets you save favourite translations, and has an Apple Watch extension too.
The paid Pro mode includes offline translation, website translation, verb conjugations, and voice translation – though for the latter, you might consider iTranslate’s dedicated voice translation app – which we’re about to come to.
Real-time spoken word translation for iPhone
When it comes to translating the spoken word, iTranslate Voice is the app you need. It’s like Siri, if Siri could speak more than 40 different languages. All you do is speak what you want into the device – it then repeats it in English and translates it to the foreign language of your choice.
It’s great for learning a different language, but could really save your skin in a difficult situation where you need to communicate with somebody.
iTranslate Voice is included as part of an iTranslate Pro subscription, which also gives you access to all the Pro features of the core iTranslate app, as well as iTranslate Converse. There’s a 7-day free trial, before a subscription for either £9.99/$9.99 every two months, or £39.99/$39.99 per year.
Accurate speech recognition
SayHi deserves (and gets) a lot of credit for providing accurate speech recognition. It combines language with dialect to deliver more accurate translation, recognising different international versions of English, Arabic, French, Spanish, and more.
More advanced language learners might favour this over Google Translate or iTranslate, especially if you need to translate specifically from Brazilian Portuguese, or Egyptian Arabic. The downsides are that the app is missing some of the more convenient features of some rivals, like offline translation or the option to save phrases you know you’ll need again.
Translate 90 languages
Professional translation goes beyond merely looking up phrases. MyLanguage Translator Pro offers advanced features such as transliteration, using latin script to spell out the characters from words and phrases in languages that use other alphabets.
MyLanguage is supported by an active community, with crowd-sourced translations that help ensure accuracy and make it better suited to things like recognising dialects. With 90 languages, it’s also got one of the broadest ranges of any translation app out there.
There’s also a free version, which is pretty comparable to other free alternatives, but it’s the pro version that stands out thanks to the transliteration and high quality audio.