GLOBAL – At the risk of stating the obvious, one of the great advantages of apps on a mobile device is that they are always with you – even when you’re abroad. This makes them an ideal way to replace the library of dictionaries and phrase books that foreign travel used to require. In this week’s app round-up, we focus on tools for coping with – and learning – foreign languages. Allons-y!
Spotted this week on the Ovi Daily App blog is the rather impressive ABBYY Lingvo which promises to make navigating your way through foreign documents a snap. Quite literally – you use your phone’s camera to take a picture of the text that you don’t understand. Then the app does some optical character recognition to work out what the text says and translate it into the language that you require. This is the sort of functionality that has historically required a flatbed scanner and a desktop PC. The app works on a word-by-word basis, so will struggle with idiomatic phrases. Nonetheless, it looks like it could be really useful for restaurant menus and shopping. If you’re roaming without a suitable data contract, then it’s useful to know that the app doesn’t require an internet connection to work.
ABBYY Lingvo is available for S60 3.X and 5.0 devices from the Ovi Store and costs £8.00 for the English-Spanish version. Versions that combine English with German, Russian and Polish are also available.
If your needs are simpler, and your budget tighter, then you might prefer Dictionary & Translation Pro. A rather less automatic affair, you enter the word that you want through the keyboard and it tells you what it means and offers translations from a range of languages. You need a data connection for the app to work – it doesn’t store the dictionaries on board your device. However, since the app is free, then it seems harsh to pick faults with what you get.
And lastly, if you’re prepared to put a bit more time and effort into understanding what’s going on when you’re abroad, then spending some time with GetawayPhrases in the time leading up to your trip might be a good idea. It’s a phrase book that you can take away with you, but it’s also a learning system that will teach and test you on words and phrases. The idea is for you to spend a few minutes during your commute to work learning a couple of new phrases a day, so that once your holiday arrives, you’re fully prepared. German, French, Spanish and Italian are available.
An older app, GetawayPhrases is available for a wide variety of Nokia devices with a full list on the publisher’s website. It costs £4.00.
image credit: Oquendo