Language translation apps have come a long way in the past decade. They can help us communicate with other cultures, understand business phrases, and even further our education.
These apps can also help us cross language barriers that could otherwise prevent us from getting to know one another. The best translation apps can do all of the above.
How to Find the Best Language Translation App
When it comes to finding the best language translation apps, you’ll want to check out each app’s features and think about what you’ll use the app for.
Are you traveling to new and exciting places? Do you need language translation for school or business? Or are you simply learning a new language?
Some apps specialize in language dictionaries while others focus on phrases. Some apps are all about translation while others can replace a live interpreter.
Check out the app stores and make sure to read the reviews of each app. Is the app responsive? Do the developers respond quickly to questions?
Best Language Translation App Features
Not all language translation apps are created equally. Some (often free apps like Google Translate or Microsoft Translator) have lots of features, bells, and whistles — but can’t translate text accurately.
If you’re searching for an app that will help you communicate in the boardroom or the classroom (or even for last-minute travel), we recommend going for one that has at least a few of these features:
- Voice translation
- Offline translation
- Translation tools
- Camera translation (for menus and street signs)
- Text translation
- Real-time translation
Language Translation App Accuracy
Possibly one of the most important features of a language translation app is its accuracy. In fact, language translation software really doesn’t serve any purpose if its translations aren’t accurate!
Unfortunately, one of the main differences between paid and free apps is the app’s accuracy. Most of the free apps aren’t as accurate as the paid ones. To ensure an app is accurate before putting it to use, you’ll want to:
- Try it out on a native speaker of another language
- Research the app’s reviews
- Compare its accuracy to the accuracy of other apps
Trying an app out on a native speaker of another language (or checking out the app’s phrasebook and translation feature on two languages you already know) can determine its accuracy.
Most free apps offer literal translations and don’t account for figures of speech.
Many free and paid apps now offer voice translation. Simply say what you want to say out loud with the voice activation feature activated. The app should translate the spoken word into your desired language.
There are two ways you’ll get your output: either in text or audio. Some apps are sophisticated enough to offer an audio translation while other apps simply offer the written one.
Obviously, voice input and output are ideal, but not all apps provide that. The most ideal feature is the ability to chat back and forth through the app on a smartphone without needing to read at all.
What good is a translation app if you can only use it when you have access to the internet or data service?
So many of us use translation apps on the go, in internet dead spots, and while traveling. It’s pretty common to need a translation tool when you don’t have service.
Many paid and free apps offer the ability to download the entire app and phrasebook onto your smartphone, allowing you to access voice and/or text translations — even when you’re off the grid.
If you’re planning on using the app only during times when you’re expecting to have internet access, this may not be the most pressing feature on this list. But we always feel that it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to language translation.
The Vocre app offers translation without wi-fi or an internet connection. Simply download the phrasebook when you have a connection, and it’s available for you offline.
One of the fanciest features of language translation apps is the ability to translate languages in real-time. Instead of waiting for your app to translate, some sophisticated apps can translate in real-time (like automated interpreters).
Less-Commonly Spoken Languages
Most translation apps come with the same list of commonly-spoken languages:
But what if you need a translation for a language that isn’t so widely spoken across the world?
Many language translation apps offer translations for less-commonly spoken languages, like Tagalog, Khmer, Nepali, Kurdish, and more. These apps are helping schools, hospitals, and other organizations communicate with patients, students, and clients.
Most apps will translate the most common languages accurately and in text. But only some apps will translate these less-commonly spoken languages into English, French, Spanish, and more.
Paid Vs Free Language Translation Apps
The biggest difference between paid and free apps is the number of features the apps offer — and the app’s accuracy.
Yet we understand that not everyone needs a high-tech app that has all the bells and whistles.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of both free and paid apps and included a list of features for each app. If you just need an app for literal translations, basic text translations, and the most common languages, we recommend the following free apps.
If you need an app that has voice input and output, includes a long list of languages translated, and is very accurate, we recommend checking out the list of paid apps.
Paid Language Translation Apps
Paid language translation apps offer plenty of features and are considerably more accurate than free apps. These apps are worth paying a few extra dollars a month because they’ll save you time — and probably a little bit of sanity.
Best Paid Translation App: Vocre
The Vocre app is one of the best paid apps available right now. We have a 4.7-star rating in the Apple store. Vocre reviewers love that the app offers voice output translation as well as text translations.
We often hear from teachers that are so grateful they found Vocre; before using the voice-output feature in the app, these teachers struggled to communicate with students that didn’t speak the language in the classroom.
The app allows you to instantly chat with someone in a foreign language. Use offline mode to take your translator with you wherever you go — whether or not you have internet access!
Vocre has been featured in BBC News, Tech Crunch, Gizmodo, Raconteur, and Life Hacker.
Chat with people in other languages, practically in real-time.
Paid Translation App Runner Up: Triplingo
While Vocre clocks in as the best language translation app in the paid category, we admit our app isn’t the only paid app on the market.
If you’re planning on traveling, you may want to download a translation app that offers a few other features, too. Triplingo’s app offers language translation as well as other travel services, such as a tip calculator, cultural notes, and safety tools.
Of course, the translation tool isn’t as highly rated as Vocre’s — but if you need the app for travel, we recommend its other helpful tools.
Free Language Translation Apps
Some of our favorite free language translation apps include Vocre’s own MyLanguage App, the ever-popular Google Translate (for its wide availability), and Amazon Translate (for its free features and upgradeable services).
Did you know that Vocre offers a free version of our popular paid app? When it comes to a light app that offers accurate translation and great reviews, MyLanguage is at the top of reviewers’ lists of 5-star free translation apps!
Translate English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Mandarin, Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Basque, Belarusian, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cambodian, Catalan, Cebuano, and more.
This free app offers a huge list of less-commonly spoken languages as well as translations for some of the most commonly-spoken ones on the planet.
Reviewers love how accurate this free app is. Even native-speakers agree that the app is much more accurate than most of the other free apps in the Apple app store and Google Play.
Google is an oldie but a goodie. It’s possibly one of the most well-recognized translation apps available — thanks to Google brand recognition.
The app is readily available (right on your favorite search engine’s homepage) and for download in the app store.
While Google has been working hard to make its app more and more accurate, widely available, and ensure it includes less-common languages, this app still has its flaws.
Amazon offers both a paid and free version of its translation apps. If you need to check the meaning of a word in a pinch, this app will do just that for you.
The major downside is that after your free subscription is up, you’ll need to pay for each character you translate. The pay-as-you-go model is fine for those that only look up word translations here and there, but it’s not ideal for people that need daily translations.
Foreign Language Translations
Most translation apps can translate different languages, like French and Spanish, but did you know that the Vocre app can also translate less-common languages, too?
Just some of the language phrasebooks in the app include:
Where to Buy Translation Apps
Most translation apps are available for smartphones and iPads on the Google Play Store for Android and the app store for iPhone and iOS.
What language translation apps are your favorite? Do you use apps for education or business translation? What about travel? What features would you like to see added to your favorite language translation apps? What languages would you like to see added to Vocre’s database?
Head to our Facebook page and let us know in the comments!