Translate camera app free. 10 Best Offline Translator Apps for Android and iOS in 2023

Best Offline Translator Apps for Android and iOS in 2023

Whether taking a vacation or only going on a business trip, it’s important to know some phrases in the local language of the place you are visiting. By doing this, you will enrich your experience, and the locals will appreciate your efforts in trying to make yourself understood.

A little dictionary or a book with the most common phrases may be in handy to ask where the bathroom is, read a menu or ask for directions on the street, but unfortunately, they can be bulky and can take much time to search through. Luckily, most app stores contain several translating apps ranging from simple dictionaries to voice recognition software that can even talk in your place. But are there any offline translator apps that can work without the Internet? Read on to know more.

Top 10 Offline Translator Apps for Android and iOS

A mobile translator is an application for Smart devices that can instantly translate words or phrases in a great number of different languages. The simplicity and the ease recommend them as “a must-have” when one visits another country. So, stuff your phone with online and offline applications that can help you break down the language barrier that separates people from other countries.

Google Translate – The best translation app

Google Translate is one of the best apps for translations. It supports text translations in over 100 languages and allows you to translate between them effortlessly. What’s more, the app offers offline translations, which means you can translate between languages even when you don’t have an internet connection. However, as of now, offline translations are limited to only 59 languages, and the number is expected to go up very soon. In addition, the Google Translate app also provides the ability to translate bilingual conversations on the fly in around 43 languages.

Besides text and conversation translations, the Google Translator app offers features like handwriting recognition, which recognizes handwritten content in a foreign language, and instant camera translation, allowing you to point your device’s camera at things you want to translate into your native language. Google Translate is also the best option if you are looking for an offline voice translator app.

Free Available: Android | iOS

Microsoft Translator – Heavily improved translation app

Microsoft Translator is another travel companion app for translating between languages on the go. It offers support for over 60 languages for translation between text, conversations, voice, and photos. The app even allows for offline mode translation, which can turn out to be helpful in situations where there is no network.

Furthermore, the Microsoft Translator app comes with a phrasebook that stores verified translations and pronunciation guides to help you learn different words and phrases in places you visit. Besides this, the app offers another helpful feature: the multi-person conversation translation, which allows you to connect your devices and have in-person conversations with up to 100 people in different languages.

Free Available: Android | iOS

Apple Translate – Best translator app for iPhones

If you’re seeking the best offline translation app for iPhones, check out the new Apple Translate app. Apple developed the app, which presently supports up to 11 languages. The nicest aspect is that Apple Translate may be used offline in all 11 languages. Sure, the language library isn’t as extensive as Google’s 59, but Apple is constantly improving the app and will add new languages in the future.

It currently supports major languages such as English, Chinese, French, German, Russian, and others. Apart from that, you may look up definitions of translated words, save translations, and hold a conversation using real-time translation. In terms of feature set, it certainly competes with Google Translate.

Free Available: iOS

TripLingo – Translation app built for travelers

TripLingo is more than any regular translator app. Besides the usual translation, which the app allows for with support for over 100 countries, 2,000 phrases in 13 languages, and instant voice translator in 42 languages, it offers a bunch of other features that make it an ideal travel companion. For starters, the app offers a collection of around 1000 phrases in four different local slang levels to help you converse like a local. In addition, it also provides a few essential tools like a tip calculator, currency converter, Wi-Fi dialler, etc., to make your life easier in a foreign country.

When it comes to translation, TripLingo has features like a 10,000-word offline dictionary, instant translation with the added ability to connect with a live translator via phone, an image translator to help you translate the contents of the image to your native language, audio lessons, and more.

Free, Paid (in-app purchase) Available: Android | iOS

iTranslate Translator

iTranslate Translator is another good option when it comes to translation apps. It features some of the best and most useful sets of features like text translation, voice-to-voice conversations, offline translation, etc., to name a few. One of the interesting features of the lot is the ability to switch between different dialects to help you converse effectively. Not to mention the built-in dictionary and history, which helps you get back to words or sentences that you recently translated or used.

The iTranslate Translator app offers support for over 100 languages with the ability to listen to translations in male or female voices. Besides these, some of the other features that you can get via an in-app purchase include Lens, which allows you to point your camera at things and get live translations, offline translation support in over 40 languages, voice-to-voice conversations, and more.

Free, Paid (in-app purchase) Available: Android | iOS

Translate Now – Translator

Translate Now – Translator is an iOS-exclusive app that, besides the usual translation features, also comes with a variety of useful add ons such as dark mode, Siri shortcuts, translation widget, phrasebook, offline mode, and a few more. For example, with the ability to add a translation widget, you can access the translation feature and get translations for things with ease without opening the app again and again. Similarly, to make things simpler, you can also use Siri shortcuts to perform translations quickly.

Coming back to core translation features, the Translate Now – Translator app allows voice translations via speak to translate, camera translation to easily translate text across signboards, menus, etc., AR translation to get translations in real-time, conversation mode that translates conversation in real-time, and translator keyboard that allows you to write in over 60 languages.

Free, Paid (in-app purchase) Available: iOS

Speak Translate – Translator

Speak Translate – Translator, is another iOS-exclusive translator app. And, this one also boasts a bunch of useful features (much like the previous app), besides the usual translation ones like iCloud integration that syncs your history across different Apple devices, voice settings to allow you to change voice speed and stench between male and female voice, etc.

In terms of translation, Speak Translate – Translator offers real-time voice recognition, support for over 117 languages for text translations, around 54 languages for voice translations, along with text-to-text mode that helps you identify a language and converse better, and an offline mode for performing translations with no internet access.

Free, Paid (in-app purchase) Available: iOS

Naver Papago – AI Translator

Naver Papago – AI Translator markets itself by referencing the lingual prowess of a parrot. The app supports over 13 languages and offers a limited but useful set of features that help you translate and understand the content in your native language and converse better in a foreign country. Additionally, there is a built-in dictionary in the app that offers a history of all your previous translations and allows you to look up meanings for different words.

Some of the features that Naver Papago – AI Translator comes with include real-time text translation for words and phrases, image translation that automatically recognizes the content of an image, real-time voice translations in text and audio, conversation translation, and offline translation. Besides this, there is also support for handwriting translation that determines the correct translation for the word you write and website translation that provides a translated version of a website using its URL.

Free Available: Android | iOS

SayHi Translate

SayHi Translate is a completely free translation app, except for one downside: the lack of an offline mode. Unlike some of the other apps in this article that offer an offline mode to perform translations even when there is no internet connection, SayHi, unfortunately, does not offer such functionality. However, despite that, it is still a great solution for your translation queries, thanks to its rich feature set.

translate, camera, free, best, offline

In a nutshell, SayHi offers a bunch of features such as easy copy and are functionality to share conversations via SMS, or social channels like or. support for various languages, along with different dialects, the ability to change voice preference, speech rate, and speed, and more.

Free Available: Android | iOS

Vocre – universal translator

Vocre has been around for over a decade and came into the spotlight at TechCrunch Disrupt 2011. You can live translate in 59 languages with instant voice translation using the app. Speak your words into the microphone and Vocre will do the translation for you. Handy, right? The free app is ad-supported Offline translations are available via in-app subscription. It’s also one of the best apps Spanish English translation.

Free with in-app purchases Available: Android | iOS

Those are some of our suggestions for the best translation apps that provide great translation quality for both Android and iOS. Which apps do you find the most useful? Let us know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below.

FAQ on Offline Translator apps

While the above list of translator apps includes both online and offline translator apps, in recent times, a lot of people have been asking us some questions specifically about offline translation apps. So we try to answer them for you below.

What is an Offline Translator App?

An offline translator app is a piece of software that can translate text from one language into another without the need for an active Internet connection. Many offline translator apps also provide voice recognition features so that you can speak in one language and have the text translated into another.

Is there any Offline Translator App?

This might sound like a silly question over here, but many people are of the opinion that you need to have internet access to have an offline translator service. That’s absolutely not true. While most offline translator apps require you to download the offline language packs once, they work almost flawlessly without the internet as well.

What is the Best Offline Translator?

The best offline translator app has to be Google Translate. This is because the amount of data Google has to feed their Machine Learning algorithms has nearly perfected its offline translation algorithms.

What is the Best Offline Dictionary App?

Well, the next obvious question beyond offline translators is about offline dictionary apps. We have a dedicated article on the best offline dictionary apps. So we suggest you have a look at what fits your usage.

Note: Originally written by Alex Serban and updated by Yash Wate in January 2020.

TechPP is supported by our audience. We may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this site.

Best translation apps for iPhone and iPad in 2023

While Apple’s translation app is getting better, it still has limitations. So, you might need a third-party app to get the job done. But which one? We have laid down some of the best iPhone and iPad translation apps to help you make a Smart choice; let’s get going.

iTranslate Translator

One of the most popular Translation apps, iTranslate can translate words, phrases, and text in over 100 supported languages. You can listen to translations both in male and female voice. Switch between different dialects.

The voice-to-voice conversation feature can be beneficial especially when you are traveling abroad. The dictionary with synonymous and different meaning enable you to understand any text easily. There is also the offline mode to let you use the app without any disturbance.

Price: Free

Microsoft Translator

As far as accuracy and efficiency are concerned, Microsoft Translator is second to none. The biggest highlight of this app is the multi-person conversation translation. Precisely speaking, you can have the in-person conversation with up to 100 people in several languages.

With this powerful app, you can translate text into more than 60 languages. Use the camera translations to translate words into any photos quickly. Furthermore, it also comes with phrase-books for verified translations as well as pronunciations which are immensely useful.

Price: Free

Google Translate

Google Translate offers free instant translation between 103 languages. The app translates words, sentences and web pages between any combinations of supported languages. You can even translate words or sentences without internet connection in as many as 59 languages.

Don’t want to type text? No problem. Simply point your device camera to the text to quickly translate it into 37 languages. Overall, it’s a one-stop shop for all translations.

Price: Free

Speak Translate

What separates Speak Translate from the rest is the versatility and accuracy. Using this app, you can comfortably communicate in several languages. To be more precise, it allows you to speak in as many as 54 languages.

You can make written conversations in over 100 languages. Depending on your need, you will choose to translate text in a male or female voice. On your iPad, you can carry out interpretation while using other apps.

Price: Free

Translate Free – Language Translator Dictionary

It’s the simplicity and easy-to-use features that make this app so handy for travelers. With the support of 59 languages, it provides you the needed flexibility to translate the text. You can quickly access your translated text to use them offline.

It allows you to translate and listen to it in 20 languages. Since it works fast and accurately, you won’t have difficulty while communicating with any person while traveling abroad. What’s more, you can also quickly find out the meaning of any particular dialect to ensure your conversation remains a pleasing affair.

Price: Free

Voice Translator: Speech Trans

“Speech Trans” is pretty good for translating voice to another language. With the advanced voice recognition technology, it quickly identifies your language.

The app has the support for both voice and keyboard typing translation. You can share the result with your friends via SMS and email.

Compatibility with over 30 languages should get your work done in most cases. Lastly, you can upgrade to the premium version (2.99) to use this app without any ads.

Price: Free

Dialog – Translate Speech

Perhaps the most accessible translator app on App Store, Dialogue, translates your speech into your preferred language in winks. Suitable for travel purposes, it can conveniently catch foreign phrases and instantly convert them into your native ones.

Besides the voice-to-voice conversions, it also acts as a text translator that can accurately convert unfamiliar words into your mother tongue. Just select your language, tap the button, and you’re quickly served with a translate!

Price: Free

Language Translator’

If you find speaking and translating text a bit complicated task, you shouldn’t miss out on Language Translator Pro. It works flawlessly in letting you can instantly convert any text into your preferred language. The app enables you to translate your voice into more than 50 languages.

Take the complete advantage of full conversations between two languages while traveling never to let any foreign language become a hindrance. Since it has a simple user interface, you will find it very familiar right from the word go!


This multiple award-winning app is simple and creative! All you do is point the iPhone’s camera at a word, and Worldictionary will instantly define and translate it. You really don’t need to type words or take pictures manually.

This app will be your indispensable travel tool primed to give you translation on-the-go. It works just like WordLens, but it has more features on it. over, it is compatible with several international languages like French, German, English and much more.

So, now you know how to communicate in many different languages smartly! Which one of these apps is going to be your translator? It would be nice to know its name.

You shouldn’t miss out on these posts as well:

Google Translate – App Review Functions

It almost seems like Google knows it all, the answer to every question and problem and if those answers are only available in a language you don’t speak, no problem, that is what the Google Translate app is for!

Google Translate supports more than 100 languages. It translates texts, websites, documents, photos, and speech in close to real-time. Thanks to the Google Translate app for iOS and Android, interpreters and translators virtually fit in your and can be used both online and offline on your smartphone or tablet. In short, it seems like this app has it all, but is that accurate?

We had a closer look at the Google translate app. In this article, we will be highlighting when the app can be rather useful and when you are better off hiring a qualified translator or interpreter like EHLION!

Functions and Application Possibilities

When taking a look at the Google search results, one can immediately spot phrases like “google translate camera app” or “google translate voice app”, so let’s get one thing off the table right away: yes, with google translate you can translate via your camera and you can input a text via voice recognition, but you don’t need to install a separate app for that. All those functions are integrated into one app.

The app is free, so all you need to do is install the Google Translate app and you are good to go.

Google Translate app download for iOS and Android.

Google translator – Offline Version

Haven’t we all been there, looking for words in a foreign language during our holidays, but there was no Wi-Fi hotspot nearby to look them up? This is why everyone, who loves traveling, will be happy to hear that the Google language translator app also works offline!

To use the offline translator one first needs to download the desired language package.

To do so, open your Google Translate app, click on the menu and go to “offline translation”. Now you can see all the languages that are available offline.

Click on the arrow icon on the left side of the language to start downloading the language package you have chosen.

The offline version offers 59 languages. Furthermore, translating via your smartphone camera also works offline. The camera translation however tends to look a bit scrambled. Also, keep in mind that not all online functions are available offline.

Are you looking for the best offline translator apps? Then we have got you covered! Take a look at our article “Offline Translator”.


The app allows you to translate conversations between two people in almost real-time.

To use the conversation mode, open the app and click on the “conversation” symbol. Here you can select the language pair. After that, you can either click on the language which is being spoken, or you click on “listening for both languages” to use the automatic language detection.

The translation will be displayed as text and you can also listen to the audio version.

Without a doubt, this feature is nice to have, especially when traveling, but it isn’t sufficient for translations in a business context for example during a meeting. It is also worth mentioning that the app works best in a quiet environment and when people speak without a dialect as whenever you say something in a dialect the chances are that you get a funny, and completely wrong translation!

In general, speech recognition worked well when we tested. Sometimes, however, it had problems recognizing, which parts of the sentence belong together.

translate, camera, free, best, offline

The correct translation of “entschuldigen Sie” would have been “Excuse me”. Google however translated it with “to apologize”, because it put “enschuldigen” and “Sie” in two different sentences.

Google translate – photos and instant translation via camera

Whether it is a street sign in Cyrillic or a menu in Hindi, Google Translate can also translate the text on images. You can either take a screenshot, a photo, or point your camera towards the text you want to translate and the app will translate the text that is visible on the image.

You can also choose to import photos for higher-quality translations instead of using the instant camera translation option.

Other functions

With the app, you can also translate text messages. What we found to be a really cool feature, is that your search history remains displayed, and if the user clicks on the star symbol right next to the translation, the translation is saved for quicker reference.

In case you are logged in to your Google account, you can also sync your content between the app and the desktop version of Google Translate.

Supported languages

The Google Translate app currently supports 103 languages, BUT this is only for text input via your smartphone or tablet keyboard. Other functions of the app are available in fewer languages.

The Google Translate instant camera translation translates into one out of 88 languages.

The conversation mode can be used in 43 languages. There are 59 offline language packages available and handwritten input is possible in 95 languages.

Review – Google Translate app

The Google Translate app is free and comes with various functions and more than 100 languages. Whether the Google translate app for PC or your mobile device is the right option for you, depends on the purpose of use.

translate, camera, free, best, offline

The app is an ideal companion during your travels, whether you need to translate a menu or a street sign, or just snap a photo for translation and if you want to talk to the taxi driver, the conversation mode of the app has got you covered!

You can also benefit from the voice output if you are learning a new language. This allows you to practice language comprehension and pronunciation.

Overall, it can be said that thanks to AI, machine translation has massively improved in recent years. Translations sound more fluent and contain fewer errors, and we can only agree after we put the app to the test. In addition to Google Translate, DeepL is also one of the machine translators everyone is talking about due to the natural-sounding results.

Why Google Translate is not perfect

However, just because a translation sounds more fluent, it doesn’t mean it is correct. This is why whenever you need a high-quality translation for your business you are better off with a translation by a professional language service provider like EHLION.

To test Google Translate, we took a sentence from our own website and asked Google to translate it.

The translation sounds good, yet it is incorrect. To show you what we mean, we took the German translation and asked Google to translate it into English again, and as you will see, the translation does not have the same meaning as the original one.

This is a translation you wouldn’t want to use on your website if you’re expecting your customers to see you as a professional in your field, but professional translation is about way more than just getting the words right! When your company goes global, this often requires localisation.

Your services, websites, or products need to be adapted to the local market and culture. For example, some paragraphs on your website might work perfectly in the UK but will make no sense to Chinese customers. Why? Because they miss the cultural background to understand the text in the way it was meant to.

This is where professional translators come in. They do not only know the source and target language but are also familiar with both cultures so they can adapt the text accordingly.

Conclusion: The Google Translate app scores with Diversity

Whether need to translate a text, a conversation, or a picture, the Google translate app has thought of everything, including an offline version.

However, not all functions are available in the same number of languages and not all of them work offline.

For example, Google Translate`s conversation mode doesn’t work offline. If that is a function that is important to you, it might be worth having a look at the offline and voice translator devices on the market as many of these translate voice-to-voice conversations even offline.

The Google Translate app is the perfect fit for many occasions, but if you need a website translation, a translation of manuals, or an interpreter for your business meeting there is no way around hiring a professional translator or interpreter.

We know that especially when you need to translate into multiple languages the translation process can seem overwhelming at first, this is why we have put together the step-by-step guide “The language translation process and how to request a translation”.

At EHLION we offer language services in more than 100 languages and 800 language combinations. We are ISO 17100 certified and work with native speakers from all around the world, in short, we make sure that your company stands out for the right reasons! Contact us for a free initial consultation!

The Best Japanese Translation Apps For Japan Travel

Concerned about communicating in Japan? Make your travels in Japan as smooth and hassle-free as possible with a translation app. Discover the translation apps we’ve tested in real life and find out which ones actually work with our in-depth guide.

Six translation apps for Japan travel. – image © Florentyna Leow

One of the most intimidating things about traveling somewhere new like Japan used to be language barriers – being unable to communicate your needs and wants to people, or indeed understand anything they were saying to you.

Fortunately, you won’t need to slip Douglas Adams’ small, yellow, leech-like Babel Fish into your ear to understand what anyone’s saying on your travels. Instead, you can use today’s modern equivalent on your smartphone to communicate with locals: a translation app.

In this guide, we show you some of the best translation apps out there for traveling in Japan. By ‘best’ we mean useful and practical – translation apps are never 100% accurate, but they’re fantastic for breaking down those language barriers.

This guide contains the following sections:

  • Japanese–English and English–Japanese Translation Apps for iPhones
  • What makes a useful travel app?
  • Test-driving translation apps for Japan travel – Text translation – Image translation – Voice translation
  • Final thoughts

Spoiler: It’s not 100% accurate, but out of all the apps I tested, Photo Translator performed best with handwritten menus. – image © Florentyna Leow

Japanese–English and English–Japanese Translation Apps for iPhones

There are quite literally hundreds of translation apps out there. The goal was to find useful, intuitive apps that non-Japanese speakers could use to communicate with locals, figure out what’s what, and generally get around. For this reason, I didn’t include grammar-focused Japanese-learning apps, ‘phrasebook’ apps, or dictionary apps.

I took six translation apps out into the Tokyo wilderness for a spin. These were downloaded from the App Store on an iPhone, though some of these will also be available on Android. I’ve noted wherever this is the case.

In no particular order, these are the apps I tested:

Google Translate

There are three main parts to this app: photo, voice, and text translation. Using this app, you point your phone camera at the text you want to read, and the optical character recognition (OCR) technology “reads” the text and displays the translation directly on your phone screen, displacing the original text. You can also type in English text that will be translated into Japanese (or other languages) and vice versa.

There’s also an option to speak into the phone’s inbuilt microphone. Google Translate records and renders your words into text, then produces a translation. This is then read out to you in the target language. Google Translate also works offline. It’s available on iOS and Android (but of course) and is free for use.

This app allows you to write or ‘draw’ kanji characters onto the screen. This does rely on some prior knowledge of Japanese, Chinese, or Korean characters. You are also able to hold the phone up to a given text or set of words and have Waygo render a translation. The app limits you to 10 free translations a day; beyond this, you’ll need to purchase the app. Available on iOS. There’s also an official website.

This app offers text, voice, and photo translation. While you can translate between English and Japanese, there are around 40 language pairs available. As a bonus, it works offline once you’ve downloaded the requisite language packs. I tested this with a free trial of the paid version. Available on iOS and Android.

Developed by Naver, this app does text, voice, and photo translation. It also allows you to have a simultaneous conversation in two languages using the app. You’ll be passing the phone back and forth between you and another person speaking a different language into the phone. PapaGo also translates between various Asian languages, including Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese. If you’re traveling around Asia, you might want to check this out. You will need to be connected to the internet to use this app, but on the bright side, it’s free. Available on iOS and Android.

Japanese Translator Offline

In this app, you’ll type in the sentence you need and it spits out a Japanese rendering for you. You can also speak into the app. As the name suggests, you won’t need Wi-Fi to use this. It’s a free app. At this point in time, to our knowledge, this is iOS only.

Photo Translator

This is the companion app to Japanese Translation, also by You can either upload a photo with Japanese text from your camera library or take a photo of what you’re looking at, and it will give you a translation superimposed on top of the original text. This particular free app will require you to watch the occasional video ad (30 seconds at most, and usually about 10 seconds), but it’s a small price to pay. Available on iOS and Android.

A handwritten drinks menu I tried the apps on. – image © Florentyna Leow

What makes a useful Japanese translation travel app?

The real test, of course, is;

  • a) how practical they are when you’re actually traveling around Japan
  • b) how useful they are for communicating
  • c) how easy and intuitive the apps themselves are to use. I’ve compared these apps by their respective functions.

These are a few of the criteria I considered when testing the apps:

Text translation:

  • If I typed in English sentences, would they be translated into accurate or understandable Japanese?
  • Similarly, if a native Japanese speaker typed in something, would the English rendering be accurate?

Image translation:

  • How good is the app at deciphering and capturing Japanese text?
  • Would the app be able to render this text into understandable English?
  • Could the app read handwritten menus and signs?

Voice translation:

  • How accurately can the app decipher English-language sentences spoken into the phone?
  • How accurate were the Japanese translations of our words?
  • Would this be as accurate for Japanese speakers?

Test-Driving Japanese Translation Apps for Japan Travel

Using Google Translate’s text input. – image © Florentyna Leow

Text Translation

Google Translate has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years, which is evident in the above-average quality of its translations. It does reasonably well with sentences a traveler might potentially ask. For the best results – and this is true of all the apps below – you want to communicate in simple sentences that leave no room for ambiguity.

In the same way, Japanese to English translations work best with uncomplicated sentences and concepts. You might not be having deep, philosophical conversations with another local – unless you’re willing to sit down for a good length of time – but you will at least find out where the nearest bathroom is.

Using iTranslate Pro’s text input. – image © Florentyna Leow

iTranslate fared decently, though the translations that emerge aren’t always 100% correct. For instance, in the middle example, the word for “top up” is translated to “上げる” or “raise,” which doesn’t make any sense in Japanese. Contextually, someone might eventually understand it. If you receive a puzzled look in return when you show them a translated sentence, your intended meaning might have been lost in translation, so consider rephrasing.

Something else I noticed with iTranslate is that it does not always perform well with compound sentences. The third sentence above has two parts: defining ‘warabimochi’ and asking if it’s vegan. The translation that emerged only translated the first half of the sentence and not the second. This is something that can happen with translation apps generally, so you’ll want to keep your queries and statements short and simple.

Using Japanese Translator Offline. – image © Florentyna Leow

As expected of an app specializing in Japanese–English translations, this performed well. The interface is clean and straightforward. The Japanese translations the app gives you are generally on the formal side, but that’s an observation rather than a complaint. It’s great for casual travelers. But, this is also a useful app for beginner to intermediate learners of Japanese, as you’ll see not only what you wanted translated, but also similar example sentences to reinforce your learning.

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that Japanese Translator Offline is good at capturing sentences spoken into the app – I tested all the examples above by typing and speaking them in. It works well with Japanese-language input too.

Text translations for PapaGo. – image © Florentyna Leow

Not only were they accurate, PapaGos’s Japanese translations of our text-based queries were some of the most natural-sounding out of all the apps we used. They won’t always be ‘formal’ but they sound like someone you might actually hear talking on the street, which is a nice bonus. The app itself is also easy to use, with colour-coded and easily understandable functions.

Image Translation

Reading text on a Dyson vacuum cleaner box with Google Translate. – image © Florentyna Leow

I had high hopes for Google Translate’s much-feted Word Lens. I trained the phone camera on printed text on the side of a Dyson vacuum cleaner box to reasonably clear results. The translation wasn’t perfect – the first sentence is more accurately rendered as “Continuing to challenge even with repeated failures” – but the technology itself is impressive.

Four instances of using Google Translate in the wild. – image © Florentyna Leow

Word Lens produces decent on-the-spot translations when you hover over clear, printed text. But you have mixed results in various real-life situations. The menu on the left is imperfectly translated, and the non-Japanese reader would be hard-pressed to order from it, though the app did its best with the vertical text.

The third example above (second to right) shows Word Lens trying to interpret a handwritten menu. In general, the app does not do well (yet) hovering over handwritten text regardless of legibility, so it’s not useful in many Japanese restaurants. It does better when you take a photo of something and use the app to read it from your library.

Still, if you just want to figure out what flavour of chocolate you’re buying from the convenience store (far right), Google Translate’s photo function doesn’t do too badly.

Using Waygo in the wild. – image © Florentyna Leow

For all the praise it has received for its East Asia-specific character recognition, Waygo was surprisingly unhelpful when it came to practical use in Japan. It was able to read some printed text but not most things I trained the camera on, whether handwritten, printed, vertical, or horizontal.

instances of using Waygo. From left to right: a sandwich board, a handwritten menu, a train ticket, and an entrance ticket to the Golden Pavilion. – image © Florentyna Leow

In more cases than not, it was unable to detect any text or find any translations for the text I looked at. There was just one occasion where it managed to translate something accurately! The OCR technology just was not up to par with some of the other apps I tried out.

Waygo is purportedly useful for language learners in East Asia when it comes to identifying kanji characters, especially in China. But if you’re looking for a straightforward and intuitive translation app for Japan travel, Waygo isn’t it – especially not with just 10 free translations a day. Given the existence of other better apps out there, you can skip this.

Reading a handwritten sign. A rough translation is: “A request to customers. When it is busy and when you are queuing, please stand close to the person in front of you as much as possible. Please cooperate for queuing. Thank you.” – image © Florentyna Leow

With PapaGo’s photo translation function, you point your phone camera at a scene or text that you want to read. Once you snap a photo, the app scans it for any text and highlights any Japanese text in white outlined box. You can then tap on each highlighted box to read what it says.

To its credit, PapaGo performs much better than Google Translate when it comes to deciphering handwritten text, even if what comes out is barely understandable or outright inaccurate. The middle translation is just on the mark; the second should read “please cooperate and queue.”

instances of using PapaGo in the wild. – image © Florentyna Leow

The left translation should have read “mutton keema” towards the end, and 温玉 is an onsen egg rather than a “hot ball” – but it’s possible to at least get an idea of what’s on the menu, even if it’s written on a chalkboard in vertical text.

Also, ‘salmon-bashing warship’ is a direct translation of what’s written there, even if it actually refers to gunkan-style sushi with chopped salmon.

iTranslate’s results are a mixed bag when it comes to image translations. – image © Florentyna Leow

Out of all the apps here, iTranslate proved the least useful for image translations. Sometimes it wouldn’t be able to detect any printed text in the image, and when it did, it wasn’t the most pleasant to read. If you tried to move the borders of the white box on the screen, your translation would disappear. It’s not the most intuitive app around.

Reading a drinks menu – it’s not half bad. – image © Florentyna Leow

Photo Translator was the surprise winner in the battle of photo translation here. You won’t go thirsty with the drinks menu in front of you, for one thing. It helps to first take a photo of what you want to decipher and upload it to the app from your library.

Translating the entrance ticket to the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. – image © Florentyna Leow

I wasn’t seriously expecting the app to be able to read the ticket you receive from the Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. The translation that came out wasn’t really accurate, but it does give you a sense of what’s on the ticket.

Reading gas bills and information from TEPCO. – image © Florentyna Leow

In general, though, this app out-performed even Google Translate when it came to reading and translating more complex texts. If you ever have to read longer printed sentences in Japanese, this is the app to use.

Voice Translation

Testing Google Translate’s voice recognition software. – image © Florentyna Leow

Google Translate’s voice recognition is surprisingly good. It picks up English sentences accurately as long as you speak quite clearly, and the resulting translations are fine. It worked with a Malaysian accent, too.

Testing simple sentences with PapaGo. – image © Florentyna Leow

PapaGo’s voice recognition also works well for simple English sentences that a traveler might ask about directions and food allergies. Though it ultimately doesn’t make too much difference, PapaGo’s Japanese (female) voice rings clear and cheerful. Coupled with the bright green background and large, clear text, the app is just that much more fun to use than the others mentioned here.

A number of sentence tests with JTO. – image © Florentyna Leow

Japanese Translator Offline managed to capture all the sentences above into the microphone on the first go – I liked this app a lot. While not pictured, it also performs admirably for Japanese-language input.

Testing both English and Japanese-language voice recognition. – image © Florentyna Leow

iTranslate works fine in English in most cases, though the Japanese-language input leaves a little bit to be desired. (The sentences should have captured and translated: “Sorry, everything contains dashi” and “Sorry, we can’t remove the dashi.”) The onus will be on the Japanese local to get this right, however!

Comparing voice recognition software on three apps. – image © Florentyna Leow

I did a comparison of the same phrase across three of the apps above. They produced accurate if slightly different translations. In this case, PapaGo’s rendering was the most natural, using Japanese that the average speaker would most likely use. However, all of them get the point across.

Trying to ask for directions to the inn. – image © Florentyna Leow

What is so far true across all the apps I tested, though, is that they’re not great at picking up Japanese words mixed in with English sentences. ‘Ryokan,’ which refers to a Japanese-style inn, proved to be a good test for the voice recognition function – it’s not easy for non-Japanese speakers to pronounce accurately.

The first three sentences from PapaGo above resulted from attempts to ask for directions to the ryokan – “real kind” was possibly the closest it came. Saying it in Japanese, on the other hand, produced perfectly understandable results.

Asking for directions to the inn. – image © Florentyna Leow

This was also true of Google Translate’s voice recognition, though it outperforms PapaGo in these terms if you’re willing to try a few times. It took several attempts for it to understand that I was saying ‘ryokan’ instead of ‘dokkan,’ ‘Yukon,’ ‘know you can,’ and other variants.

Testing out Japanese words mixed into English sentences. – image © Florentyna Leow

I also asked a friend to say some sentences with Japanese words mixed in to the English. To wit, the original sentences spoken into PapaGo above were:

  • 1) I need a bowl of sukiyaki (beef and vegetables cooked in soy, sugar, and sake)
  • 2) Where is the kissaten (a retro Japanese-style cafe)
  • 3) I would like the tempura please.

Asking for directions to Meiji-jingumae Station. – image © Florentyna Leow

When it came to asking for directions to Meiji-jingumae Station, only Google Translate managed to pick up something approximate. The rest of the apps didn’t quite pan out. (One of the attempts with Japanese Translator Offline came out with the chuckle-inducing “which way to make you think of my station.”)

Why should this be the case? The short answer is that the technology for machines to recognize several languages in a single sentence just hasn’t reached the point where it can displace multilingual humans. (On the bright side, it means that interpreters won’t be out of a job just yet.)

What this means for an app user: for best results, speak clearly, in simple English-only sentences with key words that communicate exactly what you’re trying to say. If you have place names or particular words in Japanese you want to say, a typed translation is likely to give you better results than a spoken one.

Japanese-only menus become a great deal more approachable with translation apps – up to a point. – image © Florentyna Leow

Final thoughts

Is there a particular app I would recommend? As you can see, each had their strengths and weaknesses. None of them were 100% accurate – they all had their fair share of funny errors and misunderstandings. But, outside of Waygo, most of the apps on this list performed quite well. Most of them were available for offline use, but they worked best when the phone was connected to Wi-Fi. Choosing one will boil down to personal preference: whether you like the interface, what you’re using it for, and whether it gets the job done for you.

If you wanted to choose just one app for traveling in Japan, PapaGo would be a decent contender. It’s the most natural-sounding out of all the apps above – and the voice issuing from the app actually sounds quite friendly – so it’s useful for communicating with locals. It also fared reasonably well in practical situations like reading menus and deciphering signs. The only real downside is that you’d need to have Wi-Fi to use this app on the ground.

If you’d rather speak into the phone than type your text in, Google Translate probably has the edge on the other apps, but only by a slight margin. PapaGo and Japanese Translation also perform well when it comes to voice translation.

For better-than-average translations, Japanese Translation is a good choice, especially for anyone who’s actually learning Japanese. As I’ve shown above, the app gives you not just a translation but also related examples existing in its database. The accompanying Photo Translator app by the same company (Evolly) is great for image translations, especially if you want to understand entire paragraphs in a single go – for example, to read printed signboards for an artifact or attraction.

Bear in mind that these translation apps are technologies in flux. A few years ago, machine translation wasn’t capable of producing translations that made any sense; they’ve now reached the point where they’ve begun to be more useful out in the field. I expect that all of the apps above will continue to improve with time.

So, download a couple of them for your travels in Japan and have fun with them. The most important thing with these translation apps to actually use them in the wild. Any of these will make communicating with people that much easier, and as a bonus, you might end up with a few hilarious gaffes and stories at the end of it.

About the author: Florentyna Leow is a writer and photographer based in Tokyo. When she’s not eating or roaming the streets for food, she can be found with a book and pen in hand. Her work has appeared in Lucky Peach, Roads Kingdoms, and Kyoto Journal. Her newsletter can be found here and her photographs can be found at @furochan_eats, @doorwaysofasia, and @lovemeleafme on Instagram.

Kyoto Vacation Checklist

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Top 10 Free Language Translation Apps for Android and iOS

Globalization and the ever-expanding reach of the Internet have connected people around the world. However, the language barrier continues to be a hurdle. Thanks to numerous language translation apps and services, communication and understanding among people of different languages is now easier. If you have started your LLC in another country or simply need to translate some paperwork, there are lots of cost-effective options available.

Not all translation apps are created equal, though. Some are just way better than others. The following are 10 of the best translation apps that stand out among all language translator systems available at present.

Day Translations

When it comes to quick and reliable translation. the Day Translations app is one of the best translation apps out there. What makes it stand out is the fact that it’s an app for both machine and human translation.

When you get this app, you can generate instant translations or contact a human translator to come up with a professional translation that is indubitably precise and contextually accurate. Additionally, you can make the app verbalize the pronunciation of words so you can hear and emulate the correct way of saying words you are not familiar with.

This free iOS and Android app was recently updated, which saw it gain an interpreting function. This means that the app is now capable of doing speech-to-speech translations. Having it on your mobile device is like having a personal interpreter you can take with you wherever you go.

If you need to translate text in a document or a recorded speech with irrefutable accuracy (something machine translation apps are incapable of doing), take advantage of the Day Translation app’s human translation solutions. Go to the Human Translations feature and arrange for a human translator to proficiently and promptly do a file, audio, image, video, link, or text translation.

And on Day Translations new VRI App is also available for Video or Phone interpreting. This new update on the video remote interpreting App can connect you on-demand and/or schedule your very own interpreter in the palm of your hands. Available on Android and iOS.

  • Freemium iOS and Android app (free translation app with the option to pay for human translation service)
  • Supports 104 languages for text translation and 33 languages for speech translation
  • Capable of speech-to-speech translations
  • Developed by a highly experienced global translation service provider

Speak Translate

An advanced speech translator that also has the ability to translate text, Speak Translate is one of the best translator apps for iPhone notable for having one of the highest ratings for translator apps on iTunes. It’s an impressive app capable of performing text translations in 117 languages and speech translations in 54 languages.

It comes with Apple’s proprietary speech recognition technology, enabling it to automatically detect languages, which makes it faster and more accurate in handling voice recognition. Also, it sports iCloud integration, allowing you to store the history of your translations and synchronize them across your iOS devices. If you are not sure about the language you want to translate, Speak Translate’s text-to-text translation function can detect the language for you.

Speak Translate is a free translator to download from the Apple App Store. However, it has some limitations. For one, there’s a set maximum number of translations allowed per day (the maximum limit is subject to change). It always has to be online. But it is now available offline too. If you want to get rid of the ads and extend your use of the app, get the premium version (on a subscription basis). The premium version allows unlimited translations and has an offline mode for translating texts.

  • Free (limited) language translation app for iOS devices but with a premium/paid version
  • Supports text translations in 117 languages and speech translations in 54 languages
  • Apple Speech Recognition Technology support for more accurate speech recognition
  • Automatic language detection in speech translation
  • Offline mode only available in the premium version

Google Translate

Google Translate is a product of the world’s foremost Internet company, so it’s no surprise that it is highly popular and relied upon by most Internet users worldwide. When you talk about the best online translation apps, it’s difficult not to quickly associate it with this translator app by Google. It is even #1 in the Reference category of apps in the iOS App Store.

Google Translate has one of the most advanced if not the most advanced free translation software. The great tech is what makes Google Translate one of the most popular translation apps in the world as it can be used for formal and informal speech. It is the result of years of development and the most recent relevant technological advancements. These manifest in the extensive range of features the app offers. It can translate text into more than 100 languages and is even capable of offline translations in multiple languages (59 to be exact). Additionally, it can translate text and numbers as taken by a device’s camera (camera translation) or by analyzing a photo or image fed into the app (not taken by the camera).

The conversation translation feature of this app allows two people (who speak different languages) to communicate by voice through their respective smartphones (with Google Translate installed) as their voices are translated in real-time as they speak.

If you plan on using Google Translate’s highly useful offline translation feature, you need to download additional language packs. These are files added to the app to handle translations in specific languages without the need to connect to Google’s servers.


  • Free language translation app for Android and iPhone
  • Supports text translations in 103 languages and speech translation (or conversation translations) in 32 languages
  • Capable of doing camera translations in 38 languages and photo/image translations in 50 languages
  • Translates handwriting in 93 languages
  • Now available offline for translation in 59 languages
  • Performs translations across apps


SayHi is dubbed the “voice translator for everyone” and can be used for formal and informal speech. This is one of the most popular translation apps and it’s free for iOS and Android. It has made the rounds in major traditional and online media such as the NBC Today Show, TechCrunch, Lifehacker, and Gizmodo. The app supports multiple languages including Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Filipino, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Norwegian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, and Italian, Latvian, Korean, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Romanian, Russian, Swahili, Polish, and Lithuanian.

It comes with a camera translation feature, which works for major Asian characters (Japanese, Korean, and Chinese). As such, it’s one of the best translation apps in the Asian market. It can translate text messages, voice, as well as conversational translations. It is also capable of copying and sharing translated texts through email, SMS, pdf file, and social media. If you want to maximize accessibility, you can use a PDF to Flipbook converter to create an interactive version of the translation. When you translate speech, the voice output can be set to male or female and can be slowed down for easier emulation. This is a great feature for those who want to learn how to speak a new language. For learning on the go, install this app on your Apple Watch! This feature-rich translator could use an offline mode, though, just like most other major translator apps and also features alternative translations.

  • Free translation app for Android and iOS
  • Supports text and speech translations in 90 languages
  • Camera translation capable of translating some Asian characters
  • Can translate and copy translations across apps
  • Male and female voices for speech translation with the ability to slow down speech speed


This is one of the best translation apps on Google Play and iTunes. It is one of the best free translation apps and language dictionary apps that can translate text messages, voice-to-voice, as well as text-to-voice translations. With more than 100 languages supported, iTranslate is a handy communication tool to have as you travel to different parts of the world. The user-friendly interface also means the tool is effortless to use even on smaller devices like your Apple Watch.

iTranslate is loaded with a good deal of useful features including transliteration, alternative translations, translation sharing, the ability to keep favorites and history of translations, as well as male and female translation voices. Additionally, this app features a visual dictionary and a phrasebook.

You need to upgrade to the premium version of the app, though, if you want to access the camera translation, conversation translation, verb conjugation guide, website translation, and the offline mode features.

  • Free (limited) translation app for Android and iOS with a premium/paid (full) version
  • Supports text translations in over 100 languages and speech translations in 40 languages
  • Camera translation (in the premium version)
  • Dictionary and phrasebook
  • Offline mode


Advertised as the ultimate tool for international business travelers, TripLingo is like an interactive phrasebook that comes with an instant speech translator. It is designed to address virtually everything a traveler needs when going to a country with a different language.

Aside from its ability to translate into 19 languages, it provides a phrasebook with scores of thousands of entries in 13 languages. The app provides professionally recorded translation audio along with standard written pronunciation guides. It also comes with an offline dictionary, language learning audio lessons, as well as flashcards, and quizzes.

Other features useful for travelers are TripLingo’s tip calculator, currency converter, and the ability to call US-based numbers via Wi-Fi or data connection. The app also provides a “culture crash course” to help users get acquainted with local customs and etiquette in select countries.

With more than 300,000 international users, TripLingo is one of the popular translation apps on Google Play and iTunes. It has been featured in several media including CNN, Wired, Mashable, MSNBC, Fox, and Forbes.

  • Free (limited) translator for Android and iOS with a premium/paid (full) version
  • Instant voice translation in 19 languages
  • Comes with more than 26,000 phrases in 13 languages
  • Has over 30,000 professionally recorded translation audios
  • Provides an offline language dictionary with approximately 10,000 words
  • Image translation capable
  • Allows users to connect to a human translator (premium service) for getting more accurate live translations

Microsoft Translator

Another translation app heavyweight, Microsoft Translator, is one of the many free translation apps capable to translate text, voice, conversation, and image translations. It can perform both online and offline translations in more than 60 languages. Just like Google Translate, though, you need to download language packs to enable offline use.

This app’s image translation feature can analyze images taken by a device’s camera, photos uploaded to it, as well as screenshots to detect texts and generate the desired translations. It also comes with its proprietary multi-person conversation translation feature, which allows up to 100 people who speak different languages to communicate through the app, with their voices automatically interpreted.

Microsoft Translator, moreover, has a rich phrasebook as well as pronunciation guides, which are useful for those who want to learn how to speak essential foreign language phrases often encountered during travels. You can hear translated phrases out loud or view transliterations to help you speak and remember foreign words or phrases better. Additionally, this app is capable of sharing translations with other apps and doing text translations while accessing other apps through the context menu.

The camera/image translation feature in Microsoft Translator is nothing new, but it works really well. It’s not perfect, but it’s one of the best implementations of this technology.

  • Free language translation app for iPhone and Android
  • Supports text translations in 64 languages and speech translation in 21 languages
  • Supports camera and image translation
  • Enables multi-person translated conversations
  • Features a phrasebook as well as pronunciation guides
  • Allows translation sharing between apps

Naver Papago Translate

Papago is a free translation app aimed at business travelers as well as those who go abroad for business trips or to study. It only supports 13 languages at present (English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Italian, German, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese). However, it provides interesting and useful features that make it worth trying.

It is capable of performing real-time voice translation and can also translate text, conversation translation, and image translation. It also has a phrasebook and a language dictionary. The app can be operated in three modes: conversation, offline, and automatic currency conversion. It also has the Papago Kids feature, which is designed for basic language learning through flashcards. Additionally, Papago has an interesting way of resolving situations wherein there is more than one possible translation: it shows images so the app user can pick the intended context.

  • Free translator to download on Android and iOS devices
  • Supports text and speech translations in 13 languages
  • Capable of doing image translations
  • Comes with a dictionary and phrasebook
  • “Papago Kids” feature for basic foreign language learning


Linguee is mainly a dictionary app available for iOS and Android devices. It can be downloaded from the Apple App Store (great for your Apple Watch!) but it appears to have been delisted from Google Play. Nevertheless, it’s one of the good mobile translation solutions to consider.

Developed with inputs from more than 400 lexicographers, Linguee stands out for being a fast and reliable free language translator app. It has limited language support, though. It only allows translations to and from English, French, Japanese, Dutch, German, Russian, Spanish, Polish, Italian, and Simplified Chinese.

Linguee has a Quick Search feature that is similar to the auto-suggest of Google, wherein the app predicts the words and phrases you are looking for as you type the first few letters in the search box. It also detects spelling errors and suggests the possible “correct” term or phrase you want to find.

  • Free language translation app for iPhone
  • Supports text translations in 10 languages
  • No speech translation function
  • Predictive translation search (Quick Search)
  • Developed with the help of lexicographers
  • Has an offline mode for all the 10 languages it supports
  • Comes with audio pronunciation guides recorded by professional dubbers

This app also makes use of Apple’s 3D Touch technology. By light pressing on an entry in the autocomplete list, the app shows a preview of the details that come with the entry. You can also use 3D Touch to see translations of a word within an article without having to leave the article. If you want you see want to see what users did on your app, you can use one of the session replay tools to reproduce user interactions, instead of viewing separate data points like mouse movement, clicking, tapping, scrolling, etc.


Developed by the Russian equivalent of Google, Yandex. Translate is a powerful language translation mobile application that supports 95 languages when online. Offline, the app remains useful as it can also perform translations to English from the following languages: French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

When it comes to speech translation, Yandex. Translate does not come close to rivaling the big guns as it only supports four languages: English, Russian, Ukrainian, and Turkish. Nevertheless, the app can be made to read aloud the text translations it generates.

This feature-rich translation app on phones running Android or iOS (and even your Apple Watch) is also capable of performing camera or image translations for 12 languages, namely English, French, Czech, German, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Turkish, Polish, and Ukrainian.

  • Free iOS and Android translator app
  • Supports text translations in 95 languages, speech translation in 4 languages, and camera translations in 12 languages
  • Allows website translation
  • Features dictionaries for most of the languages supported
  • Offline mode (for a few languages)

Human Translations Reign Supreme

We have developed a UX-friendly, easy-to-use free translations app, available for iOS and Android on your phone, and any desktop. However, machine-generated translations, even with AI and neural networks in the mix, are not 100% accurate. You can’t use them for business purposes or submit them to government offices or academic institutions. That’s why the ranking of apps here puts emphasis on the superiority of human translations, hence apps that connect users to professional human translators rank high in the list above.

This is the reason why the Day Translations app tops this list. It’s an app that brings together both machine and human translation solutions in one interface for your convenience. It is developed by a global translation company with extensive experience in doing actual professional and certified translations. If there’s anyone who knows how to create an excellent translation app, it’s a company that has been involved in professional translations for a long time.

Human translations are still indispensable. Especially when your translated documents, audios, or videos are for official purposes. This is something we at Day Translations, Inc. can competently offer. Send us an email at Contact us for a quote on the language service you need or reach us by telephone at 1-800-969-6853. We are open 24/7 every day of the week.