Using Your iPhone as a Translator

We don’t all have the time or inclination to learn a new language, so what if you want to go abroad for a holiday, and you don’t understand the language of your chosen country? You can play it safe, and go to a resort where everyone is likely to be able to understand each other, avoiding the need for special language preparations before you go. This works for lots of people, but the problem is that you end up spending most of your time in the company of other UK residents, in a restricted environment. You certainly don’t get to experience very much of the real flavour of the country, or get know the local people and their customs. You are totally in the hands of the resort reps and their choice of entertainment. If you want to get out and about and see the real country, you will need help with translation. In the past, the only real answer was a phrase book, which can’t possibly cover all eventualities, so thank goodness for iPhone translator apps.

Hello, Bonjour, Hi, Greeting, Foreign

Choose your app wisely

Your iPhone is a great aid to translations, and there are many apps that you can download which can help you to get about abroad, making a great contribution towards your holiday experience. Many of the apps, such as iTranslate, are free, and if they’re not free, they can be pretty inexpensive. With a bit of ingenuity, you can get by without spending a lot of money. A word of caution – make sure the app you choose is able to cope with the particular language you need. Some apps can handle the common languages, but currently struggle with Japanese, Chinese or Korean, where the character set is completely different from English. Others are able to cope even with these difficult alphabets. Some translator apps also take advantage of smartphone capabilities by direct use of camera images to give instant translations. What a great use of technology that we now take for granted, but couldn’t have imagined being possible a few years ago!

Download and prepare before you go

It’s always a good idea to download your chosen app(s) before you leave the UK, so you don’t get charged extra download costs overseas. It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of the translation apps require an internet connection (with iTranslate you have over 100 languages available online, but 50 or so offline), so data limits and download costs need to be factored into the equation. To minimise costs, travel experts recommend a bit of advance preparation – try to think of some of the words and phrases that you are likely to encounter while abroad (hotels, shopping, restaurant, car hire etc.) and get them translated and ready before you leave.

A life-saver

A translator app allied with bit of advance preparation can not only enhance your enjoyment of your holiday. Imagine not being able to communicate with emergency services or medical staff in case of emergency? Your iPhone could literally be a life-saver as well as keeping you in contact and well-informed while you’re away from home.

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