This past year, I’ve been brushing up on my Spanish, taking two semesters of the language at the local college. I’m still not fluent (I don’t practice nearly enough), but my reading comprehension is pretty decent.
One of my favorite tools when learning a new language has been Google Translate. I know that it has plenty of problems, as does pretty much any software-based translation system. There are many things that simply cannot be cleanly translated without the application of a little human intelligence. But it does a reasonably good job of getting the gist of a conversation. I found it useful for “checking” my own translations.
Google has done a great job of getting their other products (mail, calendar, even docs) iPhone enabled, but their translator was neglected for some reason — until last week.
Yep, Google Translate is now available on your iPhone or iPod Touch. It’s very quick and being free, makes an excellent resource for travelers (or students!). To access the new iPhone interface, just point your iPhone browser to http://translate.google.com. Yes, this is the same URL that you can use on your PC, which makes it easy to remember.
Unfortunately, Google has decided to auto-detect if you are browsing the site with an iPhone and automatically serve the iPhone version. This is convenient if that’s what you want, but the iPhone version doesn’t have all the same functionality of the full website. Most notable exclusion? The “translate this URL” function is missing from the iPhone version. And Google didn’t see fit to include a link or an option to view the full version (which, up until last week, you could do on an iPhone).
So kudos to Google for (finally) providing an iPhone specific version. And curses to Google for forcing us to use a limited version, with no option to get to the “full” translate site.