The Best Translation Apps for Android – March 2018

The thrill of traveling to new places is unmatched. Visiting locations around the world you never saw yourself visiting is one of the true thrills of the modern age, and the relatively-low cost of airplane tickets makes it easy for anyone with some extra cash and time to visit France, Germany, Japan, or any other country that peaks their interest. The only problem with travel comes with the language barrier. Sure, you could try to learn the local language before your trip, but learning languages is hard. If you have absolutely no familiarity with the language in the region, it can be difficult to devote the amount of time necessary to learning languages unfamiliar to your own home area. Of course, if you’re going to an area without any kind of knowledge of the language, or a guide to help you find locations, order food, and to ask where the bathroom is, you’re going to find yourself in a tough spot pretty quickly.

Here’s the good news: if you’re short of the time necessary to learn the native language of where you’re headed, you can use your smartphone for the next-best thing. Translation applications have been big since the 2000s, when cunning high school students tried to translate assignments every year using sites on the internet (it never worked very well, considering how easy it was to tell the assignment had been translated by a computer). Despite the early flaws of translation services, the ability to translate a piece of text or a phrase on the fly has improved a lot over the last twenty years. Thanks to improve machine learning and algorithms, translation services have never been more powerful. Whether you’re looking to translate a sign in real time using augmented reality, communicating with someone in another language by using your phone as a central hub of knowledge, or just for translating words you run into in everyday life.

Translation apps are a dime a dozen on Android, but if you’re going to be relying on the app to get you through the day while travelling, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the best apps from the Play Store. While there’s no one-size-fits-all translation app, we think there’s a few reasons you should take a good look at the offerings available on the Play Store. There are several great apps dedicated to making your language legible to anyone on the planet, so whether you’re speaking to a friend in a new language, trying to translate important signs and warnings, or just curious about what a specific word means, you’ll be ready to translate your words and phrases. These are the best translation apps for Android.

Everyone else

We’ll give Translate this: it actually has some solid translation abilities, accurately translating phrases like “My name is” and “I’m going to the store to buy some milk” without much difficulty. It’s unclear what service Translate (yes, the name is confusing and rather plain), but it works well. The general appearance is solid as well, with a large translation icon in the center of the display and the top and bottom of the screen dedicated to the two versions of phrases. There’s no flashy features here, though you can play back the vocal version of your translated content, with better vocals than Microsoft Translator offered us. Sharing your translation to a messaging app is an option as well, with shortcuts for Facebook, Messenger, and Whatsapp along the bottom of the screen (along with a generic share icon). There are ads in both banner and full-screen variety, and internet access is required to use the app, but if you can get over both of those limitations, Translate is a solid third-party alternative to Google and Microsoft’s apps.

Naver Papago is one of the newest apps on this list, having only launched in the summer of 2017. As such, it’s not quite as advanced as some of the older apps on this list, though the backend of this app is actually fairly modern. Naver Papago uses a neural network to learn from its mistakes and to improve translations as you use the app. The visual design is also great, probably featuring some of the best visuals on this list. Unfortunately, because this app is so new, it also is fairly limited in terms of available languages. Outside of Spanish and French, there’s really only Asian-based languages (Korean, Japanese, Chinese, etc.) within the app. If we’re being honest, the translation skills in Naver Papago also leave something to be desired, though it’s unclear if it would get better over time as the neural network learned from us. Beyond that, there are some solid features, including a conversation mode and the ability to translate text in photos, but it’s best feature is probably the lack of ads or in-app purchases.

Translate Voice, another generically-named translation app on the Play Store, is an additional offering that we though users would really enjoy. Despite some dated screenshots on the Play Store, the app actually looks pretty great in day to day use, with an Android-esque appearance that looks solid on the list. The app is a bit messy, however, largely thanks to its advertising surrounding the translations. The main home screen of Translate Voice has two different banner ads, and even exiting the app by hitting Back forces you to go through a review prompt and a full screen advertisement. You can remove ads by signing up for Premium, but that features a monthly subscription and considering the features that you can get from Google Translate or Microsoft Translator, it’s probably better to stick with them as long as you’re fine with their terms of service. Translate Voice also had some rough translations, with us (including some basic mistakes), so generally speaking, it might be best to stay with those big-name brands here.

If you’re the type of person who only needs the occasional translation, and may not need an entire app dedicated to checking a single word or sentence, you may want to consider checking out Google Assistant. If you’re using a phone running Android 6.0 or above, it’s probably already on your phone, accessible through the Play Store app or by pressing and holding on the home button on your device. Thanks to the power of Google Assistant, you can ask Google to translate specific words or sentences to English or another alternate language, type words and phrases into Google Assistant to automatically translate content on your device, and even ask Google to say phrases in the language of your choosing for playing back to the locals in your area. If you’re doing a lot of translating or travelling, it’s probably a good idea to keep Google Translate or Microsoft Translate on your device. That said, for those who rarely have to translate more than a few words, letting Google Assistant do the work for you is ideal.

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