5 Translation Apps We Love for 2020 (And What Makes Them The Best)

Trouble communicating during your travels? We have some apps that might help.Read More

Caption: Ditch the weighty paperback phrasebook and sport a sleek translation app instead. (Source: iStock / Anatoliy Sizov)

Traveling these days is a breeze — just about everything we need is on our phones, including translation apps. If you’re planning a trip abroad, be sure you pick one of these top-notch apps to help you through your trek. Even if you’re command of a foreign language is strong, you’ll find they can save the day when more esoteric phrases pop up.

1: I Translate

iTranslate tops our list. (Source: iTranslate / Apple App Store)
iTranslate tops our list. (Source: iTranslate / Apple App Store)

Available on: Web, iPhone, Android
Cost: Free (Basic); $5.99 (Pro)
Languages supported: 100+
Key features: Text translation, voice translation, translation of signs and images using phone camera, offline translation (Pro only), website translation (Pro only), dictionaries and conjugation guides (Pro only)
Why we love it: When you’re wandering around in a foreign country, the last thing you want to worry about is 1) finding internet and 2) fumbling with your phone while trying to have a conversation. With offline translation and apps for every device you can think of (including your watch), this truly is a traveler’s best friend.
Downsides: Don’t think that all languages will allow you to do text to speech or recognize voice. Most supported languages can only be used in text translation. Check the website for specifics.

2: Microsoft Translator

The free phrasebook caught our eye on Microsoft Translator. (Source: Microsoft / Apple App Store)
The free phrasebook caught our eye on Microsoft Translator. (Source: Microsoft / Apple App Store)

Available on: Windows, iPhone, Android
Cost: Free
Languages supported: 60
Key features: Text translation, text message conversation translations, voice translations, voice translation speed settings, translation of signs and images using phone camera, offline translations, phrasebook, adding languages to a favorites list
Why we love it: First of all, it’s free; you can’t beat the price. Second, while the conjugation guide in iTranslate can be helpful, most users of translation apps would have no use for them. That’s why we love the phrasebook included in Microsoft Translator.
Downsides: It supports 60 languages — 40 fewer than iTranslate — and manages voice translations in only 10 languages. It also lacks a desktop app that can be used on Macs.

3: TripLingo

A WiFi dialer? TripLingo really does go above and beyond. (Source: TripLingo / Apple App Store)
A WiFi dialer? TripLingo really does go above and beyond. (Source: TripLingo / Apple App Store)

Available on: iPhone, Android
Cost:
Free (Basic); $19.99/month (Premium)
Languages supported: Basic translation for 180 languages; all features available for only 13 languages
Key features:
Text translation, voice translation, phrasebook, WiFi dialer for calls abroad, audio lessons, flashcards, tip calculator, culture notes
Why we love it: Far more than a translation app, TripLingo is your saving grace when traveling far afield. Its standout features are really in the practical guides it supplies — how to ask directions, discuss a purchase, or avoid blatant cultural faux pas. The tip calculator is an added bonus.
Downsides:
The free version of this app limits you to translations in 13 languages and only some supporting content. While we like a few of the premium features, we think that $20/month is a little steep. Also, some users have claimed the app stalls out or crashes periodically.

4: Google Translate

We all know (and love) Google Translate, right? (Source: Google / Apple App Store)
We all know (and love) Google Translate, right? (Source: Google / Apple App Store)

Available on: Web, iPhone, Android
Cost:
Free
Languages supported: 100+
Key features: Text translation, voice translation, translation of signs and images using phone camera, voice-based conversation translation, offline translation
Why we love it: It’s free and well-vetted. But beyond that, it operates quickly and seamlessly and has a very streamlined interface. When you’re focused on getting a translation, ease of use is key; we like that about Google Translate.
Downsides: Supremely utilitarian, this app is really only designed to get you through your basic conversational experiences abroad. There are no phrase or culture books included, and you don’t get a sense of language nuance like you do with TripLingo.

5: Naver Papago

We'd pick Naver Papago for Southeast Asian travels. (Source: Naver Papago / Apple App Store)
We’d pick Naver Papago for Southeast Asian travels. (Source: Naver Papago / Apple App Store)

Available on: Web, iPhone, Android
Cost: Free
Languages supported: 14 (mostly Southeast Asian)
Key features: Text translation, translation of signs and images using phone camera, voice-based conversation translation, offline translation, handwriting translation, website translation, dictionary
Why we love it: It’s nice to find a translation app that focuses on a specific area of the world — in this case, Southeast Asia. With the dictionary and bonus handwriting translation (a very cool feature), we recommend this for travels to Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, or China.
Downsides: Clearly, this app doesn’t support as many languages as they other apps on this list. But it’s free and a solid resource, so this isn’t a big negative. Some users have reported incorrect translations for dialects of major Asian languages.