If you venture into an exotic pocket of your hometown — perhaps to Chinatown for authentic dim sum — it’s likely that a bilingual patron or employee can help with translations. But if your work takes you to China, things could be quite different. Not being able to ask for directions or haggle with a supplier might spell the difference between a successful trip and a bust. But the solution to this problem is already in your pocket.
A panoply of translation apps for smartphones and tablets have grown savvy enough to break down communication barriers in almost every corner of the world. If you select the right one for you, it may be able to process translations in the cloud, handle vast language databases and even let you point your camera at unfamiliar signs on the street to help you get your bearings. We tested five of the most popular translation apps to see which ones live up to the hype.
Though purchasing language packs can become pricey, Word Lens is still the best augmented reality translation app for your smartphone. The 24 languages' translations are spoken back in surprisingly natural voice, making your travels much smoother.