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Portable Translation: Reviewing Translation Apps

in Travel and Tourism

Like many other smartphone utilities, a good number of translation apps have been introduced in recent times offering different levels of translation and interpretation functionality. Well-known technology companies like Google have created their own translation apps which have received positive press and recommendations from popular publications. Their use for quick translations on the go comes in very handy in informal, everyday conversations, however, as with any machine translation, inaccuracies in translation output remain high.

Most translation apps require mobile network coverage, which can restrict the usability of such tools in certain places. However, there are apps that do not require a connection to function. Jibbigo is one such app that provides translation entirely from a smartphone in nine different languages. A user can speak to the phone, and it provides an audio translation for a specified language. Google Translate also provides speech translation, in conversation mode, and it has been commended for its usability. Google’s app goes one step further by incorporating optical character recognition technology so that users can take a photo through Google Goggles, and the app translates and overlays the text into your output language.

There are other apps that boast of different features, Linguo comes in-built with a large database of translations which it verifies online. Word Lens produces very accurate results and has a simple, mobile-friendly interface.

These tools are useful for certain situations and provide an adequate result. For business and leisure travellers, translation apps can come in handy, but their use should be limited to non-professional contexts. Voice recognition tools are increasingly becoming commonplace, especially after the launch of Apple’s Siri. Speech translation will also continue to develop, but because machine translation will never achieve perfect meaning in context, be warned that the results won’t always be accurate.

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