Translate instantly using your iPhone’s camera

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When I want to translate something from a language to another, I would normally use Google Translate for that purpose. However, it requires some typing and it’s quite alright assuming the language can be typed with the alphabets. Some Asian languages have their own special characters and as such, it is not always possible to type a language out. And how about when you look at these special characters in a menu, a book, or even on a sign across the road?

For example, how can you translate a Japanese restaurant’s menu when you are in Japan? Unless if you bring a Japanese Bluetooth keyboard along with you anywhere you go! Thanks to Worldictionary by Penpower Technology Ltd, you can translate any word on the go just by using iPhone’s camera.

Worldictionary can recognize languages like Japanese, French, Korean, Germany, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Traditional+Simplified Chinese, and of course, English. You can translate to basically any language afterwards. More languages should be added in future updates too (their last update has added a few more languages from their initial release).

To translate, you simply run the application, point the camera on the text, and the app will translate the text for you.

Worldictionary review - funny translationNow the drawback is that this app only translates them word by word (or at least adjacent words). So you point the cursor to a word, the application recognizes it and then translates the word for you. This is more like a hit and miss situation. Depends on the language, translating word by word may actually produce even more confusion.

For example, in Chinese, I remember that the word “television” is made up from two words: to see/look and electronics (if I’m not mistaken – this is a faint memory from learning Chinese as an elective subject in the uni about 11 years ago :P). So I tested this app to find out what happened.

I used Google to print the Chinese characters to test the app on the word “television”. Surprisingly, the app can pick the two-words up quite well as you can see from the screenshot here:

Worldictionary review - translating chinese

For long sentences, however, it can be quite tedious to use the Worldictionary as you need to point the cursor slowly and try to find out what a sentence means. I picked my Korean snack that I bought and let worldictionary translate the ingredients in Korean (PS: No, I’m not Korean). I couldn’t seem to find out all of the ingredients listed as there were funny words came up after the translation, such as an “evil oil” where the English translation on a package says “palm oil”. Kind of funny, but at least you know that it’s an oil of some sort (an evil one! :)).

You can also take a screenshot and do this later so you don’t have to keep pointing your camera.

I think Worldictionary is used best for short sentences such as when you are browsing a menu in a restaurant, or when you are trying to make up whether this is the male or female toilet :D. For long sentences, it can get quite tedious but you should be able to make a guess for what the words are trying to say. Worldictionary is indeed cool and makes your life easier because it does not require you to type to translate and you can just use the camera to translate foreign words  in almost an instant. Though the app has an option in case you need to type something in to be translated. The app also a few more features in which you can have a read yourself over on the application page.

real time translation

Worldictionary – Instant Translation & Search – Penpower Technology Ltd.

Note: License provided for the review

Worldictionary Pros

+ Cool and intuitive way of translating
+ Don’t need to type to translate
+ Supports many languages
+ Really useful for real life situations such as checking a restaurant’s menu or when trying to read signs

Worldictionary Cons

- Need an internet connection to translate
- Cannot translate a whole sentence or a whole paragraph; produces funny translations at times
- Translation does not happen instantaneously

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  • http://www.rattan-wicker-globent.com Rattan

    Oh…, I just know it that there is a very great tool like this one… How could that be? I mean how could an optic read and translate? It seems that the optic understand what it sees… So…, this means that we need no longer translator or tourist guide beside us? Then they have to look for a new job! Ha ha… This is just great thing I love very much from technologies!

    • http://www.michaelaulia.com Michael Aulia

      Gotta love technology, as you said :)
      The next app can probably hear someone speaking in a foreign language and then translate it to another language audibly? Now then we don’t need a translator at all (assuming the translation is perfect)

  • http://iphonetechn.blogspot.com/ sum500

    what technology, what is even better than apps google translation.

    I do not yet have an iphone, but I talk a lot with people of another country, I seek a translator without grammatical error.