Traveling to another country for the first time sparks a sense of wonder like no other. But in some cases, that excitement can quickly turn to panic when, upon arrival, the language barrier leaves you disoriented and lost, placing the wrong food order or desperately needing the bathroom.

As a tourist, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume that everyone will speak English wherever you go. Instead of relying on gestures like charades or thinking you’ll become fully fluent in-flight with a Duolingo crash course, be prepared ahead of time by downloading some great translation apps to your smartphone.

The best translation apps are free or charge a small fee and can help in a pinch, whether it’s helping you order your daily caffeine fix or asking for directions while navigating a sprawling new city.

Here are TPG’s picks for the six best translation apps you can download today.

Google Translate


With 8.89 million reviews on Google Play, over 76,000 reviews in the Apple Store, and an average review score of 4.3 out of 5 stars on iTunes and 4.2 out of 5 stars on Google Play, Google’s Translate app is one of the most popular translation tools. Available.

We’re among its many fans, largely due to the fact that it can translate between 108 languages ​​on Android and 133 languages ​​on iPhone, and because it comes with many features that competitors charge extra to access.

Some of those facilities seem to be designed specifically with tourists in mind. Of course, you can translate by typing, but with instant camera translation, for example, all you have to do is point your camera at a sign or text to translate its meaning (in 94 languages ​​on Android). You can also use it in offline mode with different languages, which is a boon when you don’t have access to Wi-Fi and don’t want to pay roaming charges.

Another helpful tool is the app’s ability to translate conversations into multiple languages ​​just by speaking into your phone. Google Translate will then transcribe what you said in your native language and translate it into your target language with the option to hear how it is spoken and pronounced, or simply copy and paste the text. There is also a phrasebook for supported languages. Download for free at iTunes And Google Play.

Deep L


DPL allows you to translate text, speech, photos and files in over 30 languages ​​and bills itself as “the world’s most accurate AI translator”. While we can’t verify that claim with 100% certainty, we can recommend it as a very useful tool to have in your arsenal.

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The camera-to-translate function works in 11 languages ​​on Apple devices and 25 languages ​​on Android, and you can even speak directly to it using your microphone to translate your words. AI tools will help check grammar and spelling for added accuracy while sharing text, and the app also translates documents, which will come in handy especially for students and business travelers.

DeepL is available for iPhone and Android. However, document translation is only available for iOS. Most core features are free with any download, though you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan (starting at $8.74 per month and depending on plan) to use benefits like unlimited text translation (free plans have character limits). and upload additional documents. Download for free at iTunes And Google Play.

I translate


Read, write and speak over 100 languages ​​using iTranslate available for Android and iPhone. It has over 500,000 reviews on the Apple iTunes Store, with an average review score of 4.7 out of 5 stars, and over 50 million downloads on Google Play, with an average review score of 3.7 stars.

In addition to standard text translation, one of our favorite features is the app’s voice capabilities. Just start speaking and iTranslate will recognize your voice and translate what you’re saying into your desired language. You’ll see that the translation comes in both text and spoken form so you can hear how it’s pronounced.

Other unique features include transliteration to help read non-Latin characters, a camera mode to translate signage or menus, compatibility with the Apple Watch, and a favorite “Vocabulary” section that users can use to bookmark their most-used translations of specific idioms. can be used for They have to watch it time and again.

Just note that only some languages ​​work in offline mode, and you’ll need to upgrade to the paid Pro version to use the camera and speak-to-translate function. Pro costs $4.99 per week, $7.99 per month or $69.99 to $99.99 annually depending on features selected. If you’re unsure, a free one-week trial is available to test the Pro out. Download for free at iTunes And Google Play.

Microsoft Translator


Available on iOS and Android, Microsoft Translator is a great tool for people who need to connect with others in real time and need help facilitating those conversations.

All you have to do is download the app and share the code with other participants who will be able to join the group chat using the app or website. You can then speak or write in your own language, and Microsoft Translator will convert your words into your recipient’s language.

You can also download an offline pack to translate without Wi-Fi or cell service, and the app will translate text in photos even when offline. The included phrasebook comes with verified translations for travel, directions, accommodation and dining, and important phrases and translations are available for listening at three different speeds.

The app is available in 136 languages, though not all features are available in all. Download for free at iTunes And Google Play.



This is one of the best options available for translating into Asian languages ​​with text, voice and camera capabilities.

The app supports 14 languages, translating between English, Spanish, French, Russian, German, Arabic, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian.

It’s free to download on both iPhone and Android, and in addition to the previously mentioned functions, it can also translate conversations between two people speaking to each other in real time. What’s more, the app will automatically translate websites and can even translate handwriting. It also works in offline mode and includes a dictionary, all for free. Download at iTunes And Google Play.

Translate Now — AI Translator


Translate Now is only available for iOS, but it’s a strong choice for iPhone users who also want to integrate on the iPad, Apple Watch, or other Apple devices.

The app can translate content in more than 110 languages, either through text with a given accent, through photos or using real-time voice translation where all you have to do is speak into your device and Translate Now will convert your words into your desired language, text and By both voice.

Other key features include a keyboard add-on to chat in your native language and many messaging apps translate to more than 60 other languages, an offline phrasebook, Siri shortcuts, and a dark mode option to help save battery life.

Just know that you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version for unlimited, ad-free use and features like Speak-to-Translate, which costs $4.99 per week, $9.99 for a month, or $69.99 annually. Download for free at iTunes.

How to choose the best translation app

With so many highly rated translation apps, the iTunes and Google Play stores can be overwhelming places to start when searching for the right one for your needs.

Fortunately, most apps have a basic, free-to-download option that allows you to try out key functions and then decide if you want to upgrade to a paid version.

To get started, if your device memory allows it, we recommend downloading some of these apps. Next, start playing with them and think about which user interface you like the most and find the easiest to use.

Then, examine the key functions that best suit your travel preferences. Ask yourself questions like, do you prefer talking or typing? Are you primarily translating menus and asking basic questions, or do you want to engage others in conversation? And can you deal with the ads, or will you upgrade to an ad-free version?

The answers to these questions will help guide you to the features that will be most beneficial for your travel needs and help you decide whether or not you should invest in the paid version. You can also decide that you only need to pay for the premium version for the duration of your trip; Some apps offer paid weekly options instead of just offering a monthly or yearly subscription.

Just remember that no app is a true stand-in for basic knowledge. All translation applications are subject to some level of error. However, once you consider these real-life scenarios, you’ll walk away with a new favorite translation app — and maybe even pick up a few new languages.

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