Introduced with iOS 14, the iPhone’s Translate app harnesses the power and language capabilities of Siri to transcribe the spoken word into text and then translate it to a language of your choice. It can also translate typed text too.
But Translate isn’t merely about words and phrases. It also lets you translate entire conversations on the fly. Just choose your language pair, turn your iPhone into a landscape orientation and tap the microphone icon. You can then speak in your own language and have it translated into your companion’s home tongue, both in text and as speech. Your friend then answers in their own language and it’s translated into yours, again being spoken out loud as well as offered as text.
Translate usually works online, sending your words to Apple’s servers for translation but if you want to use the app offline – or simply want your conversations to stay on your iPhone, without being uploaded to Apple – you can install language packs directly from the app. With these in place, your iPhone needs no Internet connection to carry out translations and everything stays on your phone.
Let’s take a look at what the Translate app can do for travellers, holidaymakers and more.
With your iPhone in landscape mode, there’s an icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen showing outward-pointing arrows. Tap it and you’re shown translated text in Attention Mode, with larger words and a more focused view. Tap the speech bubbles (right) to go back to Conversation Mode and the Play icon (left) to speak the translation out loud.
Translating with Translate
Tap one of the buttons atop the screen to choose one of the languages you wish to use, then do the same with the other. Recent languages are listed at the top of the screen and the currently chosen language is ticked.
If you need to work offline, whether for privacy or because of a weak or absent Internet connection, while you’re online scroll the languages list until you see the Available Offline Languages. To download one, tap its arrow icon.
Having chosen your languages, tap the microphone icon at the foot of the screen and speak whatever it is you want to translate. The app listens to what you say, then offers a translation in text as well as reading it out loud.
Alternatively, tap where it says ‘Enter Text’ to bring up the keyboard. You can then type a word or phrase in your native language. This is also translated as text and read out as a spoken-word translation.
In the translation window, tap the Play icon to have it read out again or tap the star outline to add it to your favourite phrases. Tap the Favourites icon at the foot of the screen to review recent translations and your favourites.
Tap the book icon under a translation for the dictionary. Now tap on a word in your translation to have it defined and its grammar and usage explained. This is very useful if you’re trying to learn a new language.