Audio Review # 49 | Google Translate App Upgrade Includes Real Time Conversation Translation


The Google Translate App for iOS and Android has always been a useful little app.  Living in China, I use it to translate strange text messages I receive on my phone.

Just this month, Google has released a HUGE update to the app.  You can now use it as an automated translator for conversations.  For example, if I meet a Spanish speaker, it will let me speak English, translate what I say, speak the Spanish for me.   The Spanish speaker then speaks their language and I hear it back in English.  How cool is that?

But that is not all.  The app also uses the camera to translate written words.  This is especially helpful in China where, even if you speak the language, you can’t read it.


It only translates select European languages right now.  No Chinese or Thai, the two languages I need.  However, its writing translator supports Chinese and 35 other languages; love that!  Also, it is not perfect.  It makes mistakes and it best used for simple conversations.  Don’t expect it to translate an argument you are having with your taxi driver.

Sample Uses

  • Practice conversations with language learners.  For example, in Spanish class I speak in Spanish and see how the translation comes out.  Lets me know if I am accurate.
  • Great for field trips and interviews of people who don’t speak your native language.

Do I Plan to Use It?

Already am!  I use the written translator to help me with menus written in Chinese.  I am excited that more languages will be added.

Commitment and Learning Curve

A medium learning curve.  You have to play with it a little while to truly understand its limitations.  I wanted to just use it right away, but had to fumble for a while until I figured it out.

Best for ES MS or HS?

MS, HS and adults will really benefit from this app.  Younger kids might be able to  use it with some assistance.


Free.  Collecting your data is the “cost.”

Website Link

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About miles.mei

Technology Multimedia Specialist

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