iOS 14: Apple's Built-In Translate App That Works With 11 Languages

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple in iOS 14 added a new Translate app, which, as the name suggests, is designed to offer translations from one language to another. The Translate app has some useful features that are handy both when learning a new language and when attempting to talk to someone who speaks a different language.


This guide walks through all of the features in the Translate app and how to use them.

Design

The Translate app has a simple, easy to use interface that allows you to select languages to translate to and from at the top, and options to either type (or paste) text to be translated or speak it aloud after tapping the microphone option.


Translations are shown in large text, with the original phrase in black and the translation shown in blue. The iPhone can speak translations out loud when the play button is tapped so you can get the proper pronunciation or play the translation to someone who speaks a different language.

Languages

The Translate app can translate to and from Arabic, mainland Chinese, English (US and UK), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.


Voice Translations

With voice translation, you can tap the microphone in the Translate app and speak a phrase out loud to have it translated into the target language. For example, if you have English and Spanish selected as chosen languages and ask "Where's the bathroom?" the app will provide the proper response: "Dónde está el baño?"


You can speak in any of the supported languages and have the spoken language translated into any of the other languages. The Translate app works with simple phrases or long sentences and speeches.

Text Translations

Text translations can be typed into the Translate app, which is useful if you need to paste something from a website or document for a translation. To enter text, just tap on the "Enter text" wording in the app and it opens up into an interface where you can type something or paste it in with a tap.


You can type in a single sentence or paste in long paragraphs of text, with the Translate app able to translate everything in its entirety complete with a spoken translation that can be played so you can hear the pronunciation.

Conversation Mode

Conversation Mode is a neat little feature that lets you chat back and forth with someone who speaks another language. To get to Conversation Mode, just turn the iPhone to landscape mode.


In Conversation Mode, the iPhone listens for both languages and can translate right between them. As you're having a conversation with someone, just make sure to tap the microphone button when each person talks and the iPhone will translate the conversation for each person in their language.

To use conversation mode with the automatic speech detection feature, make sure the setting is enabled by tapping on one of the language boxes at the top of the app and scrolling down to make sure "Automatic Detection" is toggled on.

If Automatic Detection isn't working well, it can be helpful to disable it and to speak by tapping between the two microphones at the bottom of the app that show up when Automatic Detection is off. This way, you can make sure the iPhone is listening for and translating the proper language.


Note: Conversation Mode in the iOS 14 beta seems to be somewhat buggy and it does not always work well, failing to detect spoken languages at times. Apple will improve this feature over the beta testing period.

Attention Mode

In Conversation Mode with the iPhone in landscape, if you tap the expand icon (two arrows facing outwards), the translated phrase is shown in Attention Mode, aka large letters that take up the entire iPhone's display for easier reading.


In this mode, the large text is useful for showing someone at a distance to get your message across when you can't speak the language. Note that this mode is best for short phrases and sentences rather than longer text because of the zoom.

Tapping the play button will speak the translation aloud, and tapping on the conversation bubble icon exits Attention Mode and returns to Conversation Mode.

Favorites

Any recent translation can be saved as a favorite through the "Favorites" tab so you can save and repeat your most used translated phrases when needed. The Favorites tab also shows your recent translations.


Dictionary

If you tap on any word in any language in the Translate app, the dictionary feature will provide a definition and usage examples, a feature that's helpful if you don't know what a word means in another language.


On-Device Translations

Translations by default are not done on device but if you download a language pack in the Translate app, translations to and from that language can be done on the iPhone for more privacy.


Translations that use offline languages are on-device and private, with Apple having no access to the content that was translated. Offline languages can be downloaded by tapping on one of the language boxes at the top of the Translate app, scrolling down to "Available Offline Languages" and tapping the download button next to the language you want to download.

Translate App How Tos


Guide Feedback

Have questions about the Translate app, know of a feature we left out, or or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

Article Link: iOS 14: Apple's Built-In Translate App That Works With 11 Languages
 
Last edited:

Arislan

macrumors newbie
May 18, 2020
5
41
Hawaii
What it's missing is a "tap to translate" system level function that apps could use. So if you're chatting with someone in Whatsapp or something else, you could long press the text to select translate. Cutting and pasting between a conversation/chat app and Translate is horribly tedious. Build it in as a system feature please.
 

diego.caraballo

macrumors regular
Oct 18, 2013
109
336
Lot to improve as it seems.
Snappier as "Francotirado" (non-existen Spanish word). (Francotirador means Sniper)
"I'm vegetarian, no meat please" traslated as "Soy vegetariana, no tengo carne, por favor" really means "I'm vegetarian, I don't have meat, please"

Cats translations are spot on, but surely this hardly come as a surprise for anyone
 
Last edited:

JM

macrumors 65816
Nov 23, 2014
1,043
1,104
What it's missing is a "tap to translate" system level function that apps could use. So if you're chatting with someone in Whatsapp or something else, you could long press the text to select translate. Cutting and pasting between a conversation/chat app and Translate is horribly tedious. Build it in as a system feature please.
You might get this suggestion several times, but:


Let them know! They listen and implement if possible (and a good idea), which this seems to be.
 

itsmilo

macrumors 68040
Sep 15, 2016
3,366
7,325
Berlin, Germany
I find it annoying that you apparently have to tap the language before typing instead of just starting to type and it getting the language you are typing in.
I have to translate between German, Spanish and English and it’s annoying to keep having to switch unless I am missing something. Often I still have it highlighted on English but I need German to English so I am like grrrrrr
 
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Octavius8

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2016
49
40
Nice try, if this were the late 90s... Can't anybody at apple check the quality of the translations???. Even worse, they are advertising them!!!. Poor iPhone, what is becoming of you...
This crazy "need" to do everything off-line is taking us nowhere.
Siri cant even "call home" without data enabled. Is really everything processed inside the iphone?.
 
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XXPP

macrumors regular
Jun 30, 2019
116
160
It is a joke that the iPhone costs the most in countries with almost no Apple services. There is no SIRI, no translation, no even text prediction. Now there is a translator for just a few languages.
 

bookofxero

macrumors newbie
Dec 31, 2017
21
47
What even are you talking about? Even putting aside the privacy and cost concerns, have you never heard of poor service areas and/or ridiculous international data roaming fees?
What is the issue with on-device processing? It is optional - if you do not like it, do not use it.

This crazy "need" to do everything off-line is taking us nowhere.
Siri cant even "call home" without data enabled. Is really everything processed inside the iphone?.
 

apparatchik

macrumors regular
Mar 6, 2008
130
179
The Spanish translation of "Im vegetarian, no meat, please", is bad. It translated it as "Im vegetarian, I dont have meat, please", but, in Apple's defense I would argue that "Im vegetarian, no meat, please" is also bad or not actual proper English grammar. Even if that locution or idiom is common place. The way the English language is constantly deformed and abused is really something. Bob Marley songs come to mind, as in "No woman, no cry".

The expression "no [thing]" by itself, is very unspecific and doesnt translate literally into spanish, it can mean, "there's no [some thing]", "I dont want [that thing]", "without [that thing]", etc. Apple's engine clearly didnt understood the context as it translated it as "I dont have [that thing]".
 
Last edited:

jclo

Editor
Staff member
Dec 7, 2012
1,620
3,234
California
The Spanish translation of "Im vegetarian, no meat, please", is bad. It translated it as "Im vegetarian, I dont have meat, please", but, in Apple's defense I would argue that "Im vegetarian, no meat, please" is also bad or not actual proper English grammar. Even if that locution or idiom is common place. The way the English language is constantly deformed and abused is really something. Bob Marley songs come to mind, as in "No woman, no cry". Lets not start with rap music even.
It's a fair point that I wouldn't have said it that way if I was speaking Spanish, but Google can still translate it properly without randomly adding the have in there, and I think most English speakers would probably say it that way.

That said, I'm going to swap out the screenshots for this one because of the phrasing I used. Heads up to anyone who reads the comments prior to this one and is confused: I changed out some of the screenshots for ones with clearer wording, but it's worth noting that Apple definitely needs to do some work on translations here.
 

kyjaotkb

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2009
671
337
London, UK
I tried the French translation and it definitely needs a lot of improvements. When it doesn't know a word, it just makes one up or uses a foreign word. Not helpful!
 
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smoking monkey

macrumors 65816
Mar 5, 2008
1,324
343
I HUNGER
I'm sure that as a new app, that things aren't going to be great off the bat. Look at Google translate, it's absolutely untrustworthy and they have being doing it for years. Unfortunately language and nuance are far more complicated to translate than Star Trek and the Babel Fish had us believe.
 
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