Google has released a mobile version of Google Translate for iOS, which joins the company’s Android app in Google’s arsenal of mobile translation services. Google Translate is now available as a free download from the App Store.
The new app accepts voice input for 15 languages and allows you to translate text or speech into more than 50 languages. So if you want to ask for directions in Spanish, all you have to do is fire up the app and type or speak your question in English (or the language of your choice) and select Spanish as your output language.
Your translations will show up as text, but you can also listen to the translations in 23 different languages. That means you can speak a question into your phone and the person you’re talking to can hear a slightly digitized voice repeat the question in their native language. Repeat the procedure in reverse to get their reply, and before you know it you’re having a conversation with someone who speaks Dutch without cracking open a single book to learn the language.
Of course, machine translations are notoriously buggy, so I wouldn’t rely on an app like this for life-and-death situations. You never know when it will fail to recognize a spoken word or translate a phrase too literally. But Google Translate for iOS (and Android) brings us one step closer to the dream of a universal communicator.