Unfortunately I don't speak any other languages. I wish I didn't fall into the old "typical American" stereotype, but alas I have yet to learn another language. This means that I depend on translation services such as Google's Translation feature on their website. I can't believe they let you use this for free! One of my favorite Apps (iTranslate) actually uses Google's Translation engine to operate. Needless to say I was very excited to see Google release their own App! Google Translate is GREAT! I love the fact that you can either key in your phrase or actually speak it and it will almost instantly give you the phrase in the language you choose. You have the option of translating in either direction and you can mark frequently used translations with a Star to get to them quickly. This is great for common phrases so that you can use the App offline. Best of all Google Translate can even speak the translation so that you can hold up your iPhone to the person you're trying to communicate with so that they can actually hear what you're trying to say.
Not Quite The Star Trek Experience Yet
While Google Translate works exactly as its advertised, there is one problem. Let say that you speak a phrase like "Please take me to the airport" and it translates it in French as "s'il vous plaît me prendre à l'aéroport". That's great! You can then speak the phrase in French yourself or even let your iPhone read it aloud for you. The problem then is that the person responds in French and if you're like me you'll be a deer in the headlights. Two-way conversations are difficult this way. The Good news is that Google is actually beta testing a feature called "conversation mode" that allows two people to actually hold a conversation in their native languages! The bad news is that this feature is currently only available via the Android version (for testing). Not a surprise since Google makes the Android OS. Of course they would want to highlight their best stuff on their platform first. I'm hoping that they do add this feature to the iOS version as soon as they can.
See it being demonstrated here:
The Bottom Line
While a Star Trek like universal translator is still a ways off, I commend Google for getting as far as they have with the technology. It's amazing that I may see this become a reality in my lifetime! Google Translate does require a data connection. It's free and there is absolutely no reason not to download it immediately!