But if you just need text translation, TextGrabber is a useful tool — all you need to do is point your camera at a piece of printed text and the app will quickly translate it for you . Unlike most of the other apps listed in this guide, TextGrabber offers live phone support that you can contact whenever you need assistance. With a size of just 11 MB, SayHi is one of the most lightweight apps covered in this guide, which has enabled it to offer exceptionally fast loading time and performance. The app is completely free to use, and it allows you to translate content into dozens of languages.
During a translation, it looks for patterns in millions of documents to help decide which words to choose and how to arrange them in the target language. Its accuracy, which has been criticized on several occasions, has been measured to vary greatly across languages. Algorithms, however, could be the most important technology in electronic translators. Everything begins with a database of parallel texts in two different languages. The texts could be translated works of literature, United Nations speeches or Web documents. Next, a complex set of operations identifies short matching phrases across sources and measures how often and where words occur in a given phrase in both languages.
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This comes in handy when you need to translate, say, road signs or perhaps a prescription. The ECTACO Partner 13MT900 supports text translation in 130 languages. You can either type in text or — get this — input it with a hand-held scanner, which comes standard with the device. In May 2014, Google acquired Word Lens to improve the quality of visual and voice translation. It is able to scan text or a picture using the device and have it translated instantly. Moreover, the system automatically identifies foreign languages and translates speech without requiring individuals to tap the microphone button whenever speech translation is needed.
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They last longer than single-use alkaline batteries, but they cost and weigh more. And you may need to pack adapters to use the device’s charger, designed for U.S. power supplies, in other countries.
Non-talking translators, such as the Lingo World Traveler, are the most basic type. These devices come with a full QWERTY keyboard for user input, a flip-up screen with an LCD display and some number of preloaded foreign languages (we’ll cover this a bit more when we discuss the features of electronic translators). Once travelers locate a word or phrase, they select the target language, and the device displays the translation on the screen. They can then say the translation or let a native speaker read the screen.