Google Translate for iOS review: Performs well, but still missing a few features

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The Good Google Translate is extremely versatile, as it supports more than 60 languages and several input methods, including text, handwriting, and voice.

The Bad There's no offline support or OCR.

The Bottom Line If you anticipate having a consistent data connection on your travels, Google Translate, with its versatile input methods and simple interface, is an excellent option.


8.1 Overall
  • Setup 10
  • Features 7
  • Interface 9
  • Performance 8

Google Translate is a simple mobile translation tool that supports more than 60 languages, offers an SMS translator, and even speaks some of your translations aloud. With its dead-simple interface and variety of input options, it's perfect for pumping out translations in a pinch.

To use Google Translate, select your input and output languages, then choose a method for entering your text. You can type text using your mobile device's keyboard or say the words aloud. Unfortunately, the iOS version still lacks the built-in optical character recognition (OCR) technology that the Android version has, which means you can't input translations with handwriting or photos. Still, in most cases, the input methods present in the app should be enough for your translating needs.

Also missing is offline support. While Android users can download language packs for translating without a data connection, iOS users get no such luxury. Even though such language packs are typically huge, the capability is an important one that I hope makes its way to iOS devices soon.

While Google Translate certainly performs a solid job translating, what really makes it shine are the extra conveniences it offers. You can set Google Translate to automatically detect your input language for quicker translations. There's a handy button to interchange your input and output languages. The app automatically keeps a history of your translations, and lets you star any of them for easy access later (even when offline). Text-to-speech output is available for select languages, and can be a huge help when you're dealing with unfamiliar phonetics. And finally, the SMS translation feature can pull in any of your text conversations for quick processing. Overall, there are a lot of extras, all of which come in handy.

In sum, Google Translate is easy to use, can translate more than 60 languages, and offers a variety of input options, all of which makes it tough to beat. That said, it still needs some key additions to bring it closer in line with its Android counterpart.

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