With iOS 14, Apple launches “Translate”, its own translation app based on that of Google. It cannot yet claim to completely replace the latter – there is no translation of a text pointed with the camera, for example or of a handwritten text – but this first version has the merit of making it simple to start failing to be rich in possibilities.
A preliminary remark, this app is missing from the new version of iPadOS. It may only be temporary but since the iPad does not have the Calculator app or the weather app either, we can remain pessimistic. We can argue that in a situation of mobility we more often use our iPhone than an iPad, but this is to forget that Apple itself had been surprised to see its customers take their tablet for their outdoor activities and in particular photographic tourism. In addition, as we will see, the app can do without a network connection.
Second clarification, 11 languages are supported at the moment with the possibility of translating from any to another on the list: French, English, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Russian, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Arab.
The interface of “Translate” is quite successful by its simplicity. You choose the input language on one of the microphone buttons (left capture) then you dictate your text to obtain its translation. You can also type this text or paste one.
However, the settings of the app propose to automatically detect the spoken language – from the two selected at the outset – when using voice dictation (in the capture on the right above there is then only one microphone).
Even if you have chosen to translate from French to English, the app will try to detect if you do not speak English to it straight away. And if the app has any doubts, it asks you to specify in which language you are speaking.
Each translation is displayed verbatim but you can of course hear an audio version or have it listened to by your foreign interlocutor. By switching the iPhone to landscape mode, the two languages are distributed on either side of the interface. Finally, a full screen mode gives priority to the display of the translated text.
To improve your knowledge, you can touch a word in the translated sentences and get a dictionary entry. If you touch the word in French, the app will give details adapted to an English user, and vice versa.
History and favorites
The app keeps a history of translations made – a button to purge them all at once is missing, we can only do this individually. And some translations that are intended to be used can be bookmarked and displayed at the top of the list for quicker access. In this “Favorites” section, the translations are classified according to the language pairs used (French – English, French – Italian, etc.).
Apple, as Google Translate also does, provides a mode of use without network connection. You will then have to download the languages you need beforehand.
But do not expect to use “Translate” to tackle long texts or articles (there will be a function in the new Safari for foreign language web pages). Beyond a few lines, the translation is cut clean.
And if you dictate a text that is a bit long, the app shuts and returns to the main screen without warning. We put that on the beta version. The app still has several weeks to evolve and improve.