Translation related iPhone apps

iPhone is one of the earliest and highly successful smartphones introduced into the market in Jan 2007 by Apple Inc. iPhones are portable multimedia enabled mobile phones having diverse functionalities. They have built in high resolution camera, multi touch screen, high quality music player, Wi-fi connectivity etc. The latest version of iPhone is iPhone 4 released in June 2010. Apple has sold more than 50 million units of iPhone so far with sale of iPhone 4 alone touching a figure of 1.2 million within 10 days of its launch. A no. of applications for improving the functionality of iPhone have been created both by Apple as well as third party vendors and are available for download from App Store. Apple has made software development kit (SDK) available to developers so that they can upload new apps to App Store. These apps make the iPhone very versatile and a wide range of functionalities like gaming, web browsing, email, text messaging, visual voicemail, GPS navigation, social networking, translation, etc. are on offer  In fact over 200,000 apps are available in Apple’s App Store. Many of them are available for free while some have a price tag. We review some of the translation related iPhone apps in this and subsequent blogs. Some vendors provide localization for these translation apps. It should be noted these apps may not translate with 100% accuracy all the time and are more useful as travel guide rather than serve as a substitute for quality professional translation service provider. Some of the apps provide both text and audio translations. Speech to speech translations are also being attempted with not much success so far though. A majority of the apps provide a limited vocabulary of around 400 to 500 words in a variety of languages. iSpeak translator: iSpeak is a group of basic translation apps that can be used to convert words, phrases or sentences from English to another language and vice versa. iSpeak can also pronounce the phrase for you on pressing a button. It can handle many language combinations of English, and Spanish, French, Polish, German, Swedish, Italian, Dutch, and Portuguese. Each app costs $2. A test of iSpeak showed that it can do English-Spanish translation and vice versa very well though it can not handle Spanish dialects like Catalonian equally well. The direction of translation can be reversed from source to target language and vice versa by pressing a toggle button. iSpeak will be very useful for frequent international travelers. Other features of iSpeak include controlling the volume and speed of voice uttering a translated word. Past translations can be saved and sent to anyone through email if desired. At present the scope of translation is limited to English as one of the mandatory languages while translation from and to non English languages are under development. Also each language pair has to be downloaded separately while a single app that can translate English into any other language of choice is not yet available. We shall review more translation related iPhone apps in subsequent blogs.