iOS 14 Apple Translate Bridges the Language Barrier

iOS 14 Apple Translate

One of the new features we have to look forward to is iOS 14 Apple Translate. This is quite useful for travelers or anybody who needs to communicate with people who speak a different language. Sure, you could use Google for that, but having a native Apple app is much more convenient. I’ve spent a bit of time with the app over the past few days, so let’s see how well Apple’s Translate app lives up to our expectations.

Getting Started with iOS 14 Apple Translate

iOS 14 Apple Translate MakesInternational Communication Easy
The introduction to Apple Translate is quick and easy

The first time you launch Apple Translate, you have a couple of initial screens to navigate. The first one welcomes you to Translate, and lets you know some of the top features. These include Conversation Mode, On-Device Mode, and Favorites.

Next, you’re asked if you want to help Apple improve Siri and Dictation during the use of the Translate app. If you enable this, Apple will store audio of your Siri and Dictation interactions, possibly reviewing them later for updates.

Apple states that the data will not be associated with your Apple ID. The audio will only be stored for a limited time.

Translating Your Communications

Once you’re in the app and past the introduction, it’s time to translate. Select the language you want to translate to and from, first. Right now, the app supports English, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese (displayed as China mainland), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. It supports English for both the United States and United Kingdom.

iOS 14 Apple Translate - languages
The languages available in Apple Translate

You have two choices, either typing your text or dictating it. Tap inside the field where it says “Enter Text” to type what you want translated, then tap Go when finished. Or, tap the microphone icon, speak into your iPhone, and Translate will do its thing.

iOS 14 Apple Translate - Translating Text
You can simply type your message in Translate, and the app will give you its translation almost instantly

If you’ve typed your text, you’ll only get a text translation. You can tap a Play icon to hear the translation. On the other hand, when you use dictation, you will get both the text and spoken translations.

Getting a Two-Way Conversation Going

If you turn your iPhone sidewise to enter landscape mode, Translate switches to Conversation mode. Then, just tap the microphone and start speaking, holding it up to your foreign language-speaking friend to get his or her sentences translated.

iOS 14 Apple Translate dialog view
Turn your iPhone sideways, and you’ll enter dialog mode to hae a two-way conversation easily

What Else Can I Do With My Translations?

Got a sentence you frequently need translated? That’s what Favorites are for! Tap the star icon, and your translation will be saved for future use. You just have to switch to the Favorites tab to find the ones you’ve saved.

iOS 14 Apple Translate Favorites
You can flag your most commonly needed phrases as Favorites, for quick and easy access

If you really want to learn more about the language, or just better understand your translations, there’s a built-in dictionary. When you tap on the book icon, you’ll go into Dictionary mode. Tap on a word, and you’ll get its definition as well as suggested uses. Tap the X to go back to normal mode.

iOS 14 Apple Translate Dictionary
The translation dictionary is nice, but clearly somewhat abridged

Interestingly, this mode shows that Translate might not be perfect just yet. I attempted to translate “What time is the doctors appointment” into German. Translate responded with “Um wie viel Uhr ist der Arzttermin?” That’s correct, but as you can see below, the dictionary had no entry for “Artzttermin,” as it does for other words.

Protecting Your Privacy

When Apple Translate was first announced, much was made of the fact that the app would carry out the translations on your device, without sharing data with Apple (or anybody else.) The truth of the matter is, though, that Translate doesn’t behave that way by default.

iOS 14 Apple Translate Settings
On-device mode for Translate is not enabled by default

To provide the most accurate translations possible, Translate shares your text and audio with Apple unless you specify otherwise. If you’re concerned about your translation privacy, you need to go to Settings -> Translate and toggle On-device mode to on. The setting cautions you that “On-device translations may not be as accurate as online translations.”

An Excellent Way to Bridge the Language Barrier

In Translate on iOS 14, Apple has created an excellent way to bridge that language barrier. You can quickly and easily get accurate translations of what your international friends, clients, and colleagues are saying and then interpret your own replies into their language.

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