All modes work fully as intended, with photo and voice translations being particularly useful. The conversations mode is the most complex aspect of the app, requiring the person you are speaking with to “join” the conversation using a device of their own – so, this is reserved for specific situations rather than off-the-cuff use.
Underneath, there are icons for history, phrasebook and settings. The key settings, available in-app unlike its Apple Translate rival, include having your phone speak the translations, increasingly slowing down the speed of audio translations to make them clearer, access to offline language translation and the ability to clear your translation history. While the phrasebook, again, adds to the feeling that this tool is a great travel companion – providing quick access to a wide range of basic phrases in a chosen language.
In terms of translation quality, My Language Lab found the Microsoft Translator app had a strong vocabulary, accurate text translation – even if it does require some personal revision – and no standout issues.
The Microsoft Translator app is simple to use and should be the go-to app for those who want digital translations – even if they aren’t an every day, or power, smartphone user. The app has a good range of features, too, making it scalable for those who may want to do more with their translations.
Pros: Accessible; accurate for voice and text translation; useful additional features
Cons: Overly complex conversation mode
Some awkward design choices but great for text translation
Stepping away from the big players like Google, Apple and Microsoft, there are a couple of popular options from less well-known companies. SayHi is one of them – and it’s also free to use.
The app brings a similar level of simplicity to competitors, with a large white background and two mic buttons at the bottom taking centre stage. The two mics make this an app focused on back and forth of voice translations, letting you quickly switch from translating a voice in one language to translating another voice in another.
The menu in the top left corner offers up additional conversation and image modes (both in beta). While settings lets you tweak some basic things like playing translations aloud and auto-saving images taken with the app’s in-built camera.
Unfortunately, the focus on recording voices back and forth does not play into the hands of the SayHi app’s capabilities. When it comes to general accuracy, My Language Lab found that translations regularly fell below an acceptable standard.