Hidden Tricks Inside Microsoft’s Translator App
If you’re in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and want to communicate with others, this app can help you with on-the-go translations.
- July 8, 2018 8:00AM EST
Need to translate languages on the fly? One option is Microsoft’s Translator app, which can translate more than 60 languages via text or voice.
It can speak a translated phrase so you hear how it’s pronounced, translate signs and other images into a different language, and perform real-time translations between two or more people.
Microsoft offers a few options for translation, including the Microsoft Translator webpage and Bing Translator site, but the Microsoft Translator mobile app lets you translate text when you’re out and about.
The Microsoft Translator app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows 10; all three work similarly and offer the same basic functionality. The iOS and Android flavors even look the same, while the Windows 10 edition sports a different layout. For this article, I’ll be using the iOS version on an iPhone.
Translating Speech and Text
The app greets you with a screen showing four key options: convert your spoken words into a different language; convert your typed text into a different language; convert words on a sign or picture into a different language; and translate a conversation among two or more people.
Tap on the microphone icon and speak a word or phrase. The app displays the translated text and pronounces it as well. From the translation screen, you can opt to: pin the translation for future reference; share the translation via email, messaging, Twitter, and other services; choose to see the translation full screen as the app pronounces the translated text; or opt to hear the translated text again. At the bottom of the screen, you can change the source and target languages by tapping on each of the two languages. Tap Close to close the translation screen.
Next, tap on the keyboard icon. Here, you can type the text you want translated. As you type each word, the translation appears underneath. You can then pin the translation, share it with others, view it full screen, and listen to it spoken. Tap Close to return to the main screen.
Next, tap on the camera icon. You can now point your mobile device at a sign or other image and have it translated into the language of your choice. Aim your device’s camera at the image.
Then tap the camera icon. The app overlays the translation on top of the image. Tap the camera icon again to remove the overlaid translation.
Set Source Language
By default, the app automatically tries to detect the source language. If the app has trouble translating the image, you can change the source to the specific language and see if the results are any better. Again, tap Close to return to the main screen.
Now here’s the coolest feature of all. Tap on the People icon. You can now start or join a conversation with other people who speak different languages, with the app translating for each person. Tap the Start button to start a conversation. At the next screen, type your name and select your native language if it’s not already selected. Then tap Enter. The app displays a code that you can share with other people who want to join the conversation.
Joining a Conversation
A person who wants to join the conversation then launches the Translator app and taps on the People icon. A “Join conversation” screen pops up where the person can enter the code and then tap Join. That person then enters his or her name, selects the language to use, and taps Enter.
You can now start the conversation. Tap the microphone icon and speak, or you can tap the keyboard icon to type something. The text appears on the screen of the other person in the language he or she chose. That person can then respond with a message in his or her language, which then appears on your screen in your own language. You can carry on a conversation with each other while Microsoft Translator acts as the middleman, translating each phrase into the person’s chosen language. When you’re finished, just tap on the Leave link to leave or end the conversation.
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