If you are traveling abroad and don't speak the local language, you don't need a phrasebook anymore — you need Microsoft Translator. Available for both Windows 10 PC and Mobile, the app can translate text, audible phrases and printed material into a number of languages.
The interface is simple and straightforward with some of the language databases available to download for offline use. Otherwise, a data connection is required. We have seen Microsoft Translator grow over the years from a basic translator app to a feature rich communications tool. It is a must-have app for anyone who needs translate foreign languages.
While we tested out the Windows 10 Mobile version of Microsoft Translator, the app's interface is consistent with very few deviations when used on a Windows 10 PC — most differences come down to the increase in screen size.
Translator opens up to the main translation screen where you can enter text or audible phrases for translation. You can also launch the camera to translate printed material (road signs, billboards, menus, etc.). A menu rests in the upper left corner that provides you access to your language choices, offline translation, favorite translations and the app's settings.
At the bottom of the Windows 10 Mobile version, you will find your selected languages and options to share, copy, edit or delete a translation. A similar layout is present with the Windows 10 PC version.
Settings for Translator include:
- Clearing your translation history
- Turning on/off a Spell Checker
- Turning on/off the Word of the Day feature
- Choosing the language for the Word of the Day
- Selecting dialects for select languages
The Word of the Day feature will display a new word to learn when you pin the Translator app to your Start Screen. It is a nice feature to familiarize yourself with a new language.
As far as the translation languages are concerned, they span everything from Spanish to Klingon (yes, Klingon — qapla'!). Translation's available in three different methods: text (51 languages), voice (18 languages), and camera (22 languages).
The camera translation is possibly the coolest feature. If you are dining out and need help making heads or tails of a menu, just launch the camera feature and fill the frame with your menu. Once everything comes into focus, the app will superimpose translated text on the screen. You can capture the image to share or simply save for future use. If available, the captured text can also be translated and spoken aloud by the phone.
Of the 51 total languages, 17 are available to download and store on your device, letting you translate without having to rely on your data connection. Each of the downloadable language packs support the same translation methods (typing, voice, and camera) as when used online. Downloading these packs before setting out on an international escapade will help you to keep translating while avoiding being hit with painful roaming data charges.
A Rosetta Stone for Windows 10
Microsoft's Translator app has always been a quality app to help bridge language barriers and through the years, it has only gotten better with each update. The interface is simple and the translation library has a broad range of languages. I just wish the translation methods were consistent throughout the language choices (and that Latin was also included).
The audible recording was accurate (even with my Southern accent) and the playback offers a mix of male and female voices. Translation speed was quick for text translation or voice translation. Camera translation took a few seconds, but nothing overly dramatic.
Translator is a great tool while traveling, not only to let you find the right words to say but also interpret what's being said to you. Even if you don't travel much, the free Microsoft's Translator is a good app to have on your Windows 10 PC or Mobile devices just in case the need arises.
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