Having Google Translate inside our smartphones means that conversation on holiday is a whole lot easier than it used to be. No longer do we need to awkwardly thumb through phrasebooks, hoping to stumble across a German translation for ‘you can’t reserve all the sun loungers before breakfast’*.
Using the app
When you download the Google Translate app (available for Android and iOS), everything will be translated online, and you won’t need to worry about it taking up precious storage space on your device.
But, as going online generally costs a lot on holiday (if you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network), we recommend either buying a local SIM card or saving whichever languages you’ll need on your phone before you leave home. The languages are at the top of the screen and to download them simply tap the down-facing arrows. They all average about 240MB and are totally free.
What does Google Translate do?
As with everything Google produces, the Translate app is simple and clean-cut. The user interface is made up of a big box that will display your text, your language options, and the three input methods.
Scribble: If you find yourself needing to physically write something down in a foreign language to find out what it means, the app allows you to draw the words with your finger onto your smartphone’s display. This will be really helpful if you’re trying to figure out languages that don’t use the English alphabet, like Chinese, Greek or Japanese.
Chat: A great new feature was introduced to the app recently, in which Google will vocally translate your conversations in real time, making bi-lingual conversation a breeze. This function isn’t available in all languages, but through our testing we’ve seen it work with French, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Danish, German, Portuguese, Hindi and Chinese.
The service isn’t perfect yet, but before long it will be even more widely available and be able to make sense of more accents.
Snap: If it’s not a person you need to understand, but rather a menu or a street sign, you can hold up your camera and Google will magically translate the words in front of your eyes. There isn’t much more to say about this part of the app – it’s pure witchcraft.
The app also has the option to select dialects of other languages. This will help the app understand what you’re talking about if you speak with an accent.
If you want any more information about using the Google Translate app while you’re sunning yourself, drop us a comment below.
*If you do find yourself in this sticky situation, go for: “Sie können alle Liegestühle vor dem Frühstück nicht behalten”, and thank us later.