How to Use Google Translate on Your Smartphone
Thanks to applications like Google Translate, it is easier than ever to communicate with people who do not speak your mother tongue. With support for over 100 languages, this powerful app is a must have for traveling and anytime you need to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language. You’ll get the most out of this powerful app right from the start if you know how to use all of its features. Read on and we’ll share the tips and tricks you’ll need to master Google Translate.
- 1 What Google Translate can do
- 2 How to translate text
- 3 How to share translations
- 4 How to translate offline
- 5 How to use the camera in real time or upload a photo
- 6 How to translate handwriting
- 7 How to use talk mode
- 8 How to use Tap to Translate
- 9 How to Build Your Own Phrasebook
- 10 How to use Google Translate as a dictionary
What Google Translate can do
As one of the best language translation apps, the Google Translate app offers many useful features and is available for Android and iOS. Here’s everything you can do and the number of languages currently supported for each feature:
- Text translations: Write your text (108 languages).
- Offline translations: Write text offline (59 languages).
- Instant camera translations: The camera translates in real time (94 languages).
- Photos: Take a photo and upload it for a more accurate translation (90 languages).
- Conversations: Two-way conversation in real time (70 languages).
- Writing: Draw text and characters on the screen (96 languages).
- Phrasebook: Save the translated words and phrases.
- Tap to translate: Touch to copy text to any application and the translation will appear.
How to translate text
By far the most common use case for the Google Translate app is translating the text you can type. That is why the app defaults to the text translation screen. Once you open the application, it is quite easy to use.
As seen in the images below, in the upper left corner is the language you are translating from and on the right is the language you are translating into. The app will try to automatically identify the languages you’ve used recently, but you can tap on any of the languages for a large drop-down list of possible options.
Step 1: To start the translation, tap on the text box to open the virtual keyboard and type the word or phrase that you would like to translate.
Step 2: The app will translate it as you type. It might suggest another phrase if you think you’ve misspelled it, and you can tap on it if that’s what you’re looking for.
Step 3: You will also see a small speaker icon on the left side of each translation. Tap it and your device will speak the translation out loud. This can be incredibly useful when you are unsure of the pronunciation.
Stage 4: If you don’t have the option to convert text to speech, you may need to install Google’s TTS app.
Step 5: Once installed, be sure to select the Google Text-to-Speech Engine for this to work. Here’s how you can do it on Android.
Step 6: Opened Settingsand touch System.
Step 7: Select Language & input.
Step 8: Make sure Google’s speech synthesis engine is selected.
You will also notice three options at the bottom of the text box. They allow you to switch to the camera to perform translations in real time or take photos to upload, open the conversation mode or activate the voice to say the required phrase or word instead of typing it. To translate handwritten text, simply click the pencil icon on the right side of the screen to open the handwriting screen.
With every translation the app returns, you have a couple of icons below the translated text. You can choose to copy it to your clipboard and paste it elsewhere, or you can touch the three vertical dots for more options and touch Share to share it via Messages, Bluetooth, and other apps.
How to translate offline
While Google Translate used to require an internet connection, and it still works better when online, now you can use it to translate 59 languages even when you don’t have an internet connection. However, you must first download the relevant language packs.
To do this, tap on the three horizontal lines in the upper left, then Offline translation. You will see the available languages you have downloaded at the top and you can scroll down and tap on any other languages you want to add.
How to use the camera in real time or upload a photo
Google Translate offers many features beyond automatic web page translation. The real-time translation feature uses your phone’s camera to help you translate a sign, something on a menu, or any other written text.
Step 1: Open the Google Translate app and tap on the camera icon.
Step 2: Make sure to select the language you want to translate and point the camera at the text you want to translate. The application will search and translate the text you see from the first language to the second.
Step 3: Once the text you want to translate is on the screen, touch the Pause at the bottom right to freeze the screen.
Stage 4: If the application does not automatically start translating on the screen, touch the Scan at the bottom to activate instant translation. Please note that you will need an internet connection for this to work. You can often get better results by scanning and selecting specific text.
Step 5: Tap Scan then press the gray shutter button to start scanning text, then use your finger to highlight the text you want to translate or touch Select everything.
Step 6: You can also tap the Import icon at the bottom right to have Google Translate scan a photo you’ve already taken; You will be asked to choose from your gallery app.
How to translate handwriting
If you touch the pencil icon, a panel will appear where you can try to write by hand what you want to translate. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t work well for all languages and a lot will depend on how neat and readable your writing is.
If you have a stylus or a phone like the Galaxy Note, handwriting will be easier, but you can always try it with your finger.
How to use talk mode
The Google Translate app offers a conversation mode that is a boon for travelers. This mode allows you to speak to your phone in your language and the listener can hear the translated version of what you say, in their language.
To cite an example, if you are an English-speaking person traveling to Germany and you need to speak to someone who only understands German, all you need to do is open Conversation mode, speak in English, and the listener will be able to hear a translated version of your message in German. When he replies to your message (in German), the app performs a reverse translation and you can hear his reply in English.
See the steps below to learn how to use conversation mode in Google Translate.
Step 1: To start the process, touch the Conversation in Google Translate and select the language you want to translate to. Then tap on the hand icon at the top right and show the person your phone screen. The screen will display a message saying that it will communicate with Google Translate.
Step 2: At the bottom, you will see a microphone symbol next to each language and you can take turns speaking and see how the app translates your speech and speaks out loud with your partner in your own language.
Step 3: You can also tap the Auto Microphone option in the middle to have Google Translate listen and choose the relevant language, but keep in mind that this doesn’t always work very well and isn’t available for all language pairs.
How to use Tap to Translate
Tap to Translate is a nifty feature that allows you to translate any text in whatever application you see on your phone screen, into a language that you understand. This can be particularly useful if you come across a message (for example, on WhatsApp) in a language you don’t understand and you need a quick way to translate it, and possibly reply in the same language.
Note that this only works with applications within which we have the option to ‘select’ text. This, for example, does not work with images (for which you can choose to upload the image, instead).
Before you start using Tap to Translate, you should make sure to activate the feature from the Google Translate app. Since the feature is available in any text-embedded app, you may want to disable it when not in use.
Step 1: To activate the Tap to Translate feature, open the Google Translate app and tap the three horizontal lines in the upper left to open the menu.
Step 2: Then touch Settings> Tap to translate and toggle Let about.
Step 3: Now, open the application from where you want to translate the text and highlight the relevant text by dragging your finger to select it. Then, tap on copy.
Stage 4: Then tap on the Google Translate icon when it appears on the screen. You should see the translation appear overlaid in the app almost instantly.
How to Build Your Own Phrasebook
If you find yourself using selected words or phrases repeatedly, it might be a good idea to save them for future use (and access them quickly). Well that’s what the Phrasebook option does for you. Here’s how you can use the phrasebook effectively in Google Translate.
Step 1: If you want to save a translated word or sentence, be sure to open the translation screen in Google Translate and type the text that needs to be translated.
Step 2: Once the translated text appears below, click on the star located in the upper right corner of the text box. This star will keep all of her favorites in a phrase book.
Step 3: To access your favorites list, click on the “hamburger” menu at the top left and open Phrasebook from the list of options.
Stage 4: The phrasebook even has a search function that you can access by clicking the magnifying glass. This handy feature is ideal for language learners who want to revisit words and phrases to memorize the ones they use the most.
How to use Google Translate as a dictionary
It turns out that Google Translate can also function as a very capable dictionary. Regardless of your primary language, you can use Google Translate to define any word you want. That’s how.
Step 1: Select the same language for both boxes.
Step 2: In the translation box, Google will do its best to explain the word in the first box.
Step 3: It doesn’t always work if English is the chosen language, for whatever reason. Choosing Detect Language for your input and English for your output generally fixes this problem.
Stage 4: Once you’ve set it up, all you have to do is type or say the word you want to define, and Google Translate does the rest.