Anyone who often travels on business or for pleasure appreciates translator apps. They are practical companions in many situations and ease a person’s workload.
Carry along a bulky dictionary in your backpack or communicate with your hands and feet? Gone are the times when we mainly lived our lives offline and when good planning and a talent for improvisation were more important than good apps. Regardless of whether you are on a business trip to China, on vacation in Latin America or at home on the street, translator apps are very helpful when communicating in foreign languages.
Thanks to smartphones and tablets, apps have become indispensable to our everyday lives. Meanwhile, a very wide selection of translation apps has become available which is difficult to survey. Which app is the best? This depends entirely on your expectations and needs.
The best translator app
Which translator app is the best? The answer to this question cannot be provided in general terms, since it depends on your personal needs and preferences. Every user will find his own favorite app with a variety of practical functions for fast private and commercial translations among the numerous providers that are available.
Free translator apps
Good and practical translator apps are not necessarily fee-based. You also can get a good deal featuring extensive functions free-of-charge. We will introduce some of the best and most popular translator apps to you here.
DeepL Translator App
One thing in advance: Unfortunately, DeepL is not yet available as an app. According to its developer, a Cologne start-up, this most popular online translating program will soon be available as a free translation app as well. Unfortunately, since the launch of the app has been delayed, this program still is available only as an online translator at present.
Meanwhile, DeepL can already quite easily be used in the web browser of your smartphone or tablet.
Read more about DeepL here
Microsoft Translator app
The free Microsoft Translator app is available for over 60 languages with diverse functions.
The Microsoft Translator app for Android has an attractive design and features numerous functions:
Translation via speech recognition (split-screen mode)
Translation of entered text
Translation of text on photos and screenshots
Translation of multiparty conversations (conversation mode)
Option for downloading languages for offline use
Translation memory for reading previous translations
Voice playback of translated text
Pinning and saving translations
Very extensive (60 languages)
Compatible with Android and iPhone
Translations somewhat inaccurate
Asknet features a very good overview of the Microsoft Translator app in their Video review.
Google Translate translator app
The free translator from Google is one of the biggest competitors of the Microsoft Translator – it is used by millions of users worldwide. The app is easy to use and clearly structured.
The Google app features the following functions:
Language identification – the app identifies the language involved.
Translation of the spoken word via speech recognition.
Translation of multiparty conversations (conversation mode).
Translation of entered text.
Offline translations (Option for downloading languages for offline use).
Optical character recognition of images via camera.
Creation of your own vocabulary and memory (for example for learning vocabulary).
Handwritten text input possible.
Translation of 103 languages.
Extensive offline functions.
Quality of the translation (often fails to match that of the competition).
An in-depth video evaluation is provided here
PROMT Offline Translator app
The popular PROMT Online Translator also comes in an app version for smartphones and tablets. The app translates only into the most important European languages, and therefore offers fewer languages than Google Translate or the Microsoft Translator.
The app of the repeatedly award-winning translation service currently costs € 3.49. Users agree that the price and quality of the PROMT Translator are right.
The PROMT Translator features numerous functions:
Translations via text input
Technical translations also are possible offline – Offline mode without an internet connection
Text translation from images
Conversation mode for direct translation of conversations
Technical terms from various fields
Translation memory containing the last 50 translations
Pronunciation scoring of words and their translations
Phrasebook for upcoming trips
Extension for iMessage
Quality (good evaluations by users)
Only translates into the most important European languages
iTranslate translator app
The iTranslate translator app convinces with its many sophisticated functions – for example, through the different dialects and 100 languages available for selection.
The free translation app offers its users the following functions:
Translators for more than 100 languages
Conversation mode – direct translation of languages
Translation of camera images and signs
Offline translation mode in over 40 languages
Voice output with male or female voice
Selection of different dialects
Conjugation of verbs
Dictionary & translator with synonyms and different meanings in different languages
Translation of characters
Translations can easily be shared with others
The favorites list and automatically created translation memory enable you to look up previous translations
100 possible languages
Selection of dialects
Relatively high accuracy
Fewer technical features: no conversation mode for direct translation of conversations
Speech recognition is not free
dict.cc translator app dictionary
The dict.cc translator app dictionary easy to use. It also functions without an internet connection, and is therefore very useful, particularly when traveling. The app is based on the design of the dict.cc website.
It offers the following functions:
A dictionary for 51 language pairs
Complete expressions or typical compound sentences are translatable
Including a vocabulary trainer
Can be used without an internet connection (offline dictionary, voice output only online)
Good vocabulary for German-English translations
More like a dictionary than a translator app
Can be used only offline
Comparatively small vocabulary
Special translator apps
The programs of most translator apps mainly feature common languages. But what should you do if you want to translate into an exotic language? Some apps concentrate on certain niche markets and offer translations for languages that are in less demand, such as Chinese or even Low German.
Especially during your next trip to China, such a specialized app definitely would be a suitable tool for making it a bit easier to communicate with the local population. Particularly in cases where one hundred percent understanding is not necessary (in contrast to a business negotiation).
Waygo translator app (Asian languages)
Waygo is especially practical when traveling in the Asian region: The app is very visual and translates signs, menus and images into English using the camera. Waygo is especially valuable in Asian countries where most travelers require assistance with local language and are not able translate the characters on their own.
The app recognizes and translates Chinese and Japanese characters or Korean script into English. Since it also works offline, no internet or data connection is required. The free version of the app includes up to 10 translations per day. An unlimited package is available for a fee of $6.99.
Translation of texts in images from Asian languages
Pronunciation aids for vocabulary
Offline mode – also works without internet
Special focus on Asian languages
Well-suited to travelers
Relatively high accuracy, specifically focused on Asian languages
Translates from Asian languages only into English
A video evaluation is provided here.
Pleco translator app (Chinese)
Pleco is one of the leading apps for Chinese translations. The free app is currently available only in English, however, a Chinese-German dictionary can be installed. Chinese learners agree that Pleco is one of the best translator apps for the Chinese language.
Eight free dictionaries (other languages are available as payable downloads)
Translation of handwritten entries / drawings
Translation of text via camera image
Audio playback of translation (male and female voices)
Translation via audio (speech recognition)
Translation of characters in documents
Large Chinese vocabulary
Interesting only for Chinese learners
Op Platt translator app (Low German)
A translator app for Low German? This app from Radio Bremen is definitely something very special. For this reason, we just had to introduce it to you here. The free app is original and entertaining – and an option for anyone who would like to get a taste of the Low German language without having to attend an entire course.
Low German vocabulary
Low German course with ten lessons
Daily news in Low German
Sayings, words of wisdom and anecdotes
Very small scope and few traditional translator app functions
Risks and disadvantages of translator apps
Translator apps are practical whenever you’re in a hurry and offer valuable help in conversations with locals, especially when traveling. However, they do not even come close to the performance of a professional translator or interpreter.
It is advisable to employ a professional interpreter, especially in direct dealings with international customers or business partners, e.g. during negotiations and at events. In this way, you can make sure that you and your business partners understand everything exactly so that no costly misunderstandings occur.
At EHLION we offer you interpreters for all languages. Find out more about the various interpreter services and languages which we offer here.
Anyone who uses an app to translate technical terms or requires flawless translations of precise technical terminology or legally binding formulations also should be careful and should preferably hire a professional to perform the corresponding translation.
Data input also involves certain risks since, once entered, your information remains stored on the provider’s server and hardly can be removed. Your data are thus located in the public sphere.
Comparison of translator apps
Finding the translator app that is right for you is not so easy. There is a wide range to choose from and the many different functions of the available apps make it hard to choose. Popular allrounders such as the Microsoft Translator app, Google Translate or PROMT convince with a great diversity of languages, a wide range of functions and constant updates and improvements.
The Microsoft Translator is popular especially due to its many technical features. The iTranslator even makes it possible to select between various dialects. A special app with a well-functioning voice output such as Waygo or Pleco is above all practical for travelers. The dict.cc translator apps are recommendable for English-German translations.
Such an app cannot replace a professional translator or protect users against translation errors. However, the app is very practical when traveling and will provide you with “language first aid” whenever your own language skills prove inadequate.