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Best French/English translating app for iPhone

Hi everyone,

We will be traveling to France, among other places, this summer. We are getting T-Mobile phones that will have unlimited data. :-)

I was wondering if anyone can recommend French/English translating iPhone app.

There are so many choices in the App Store: various ratings, wide range of prices.

For that matter, something for German and Hungarian would be great, too.
I guess we'll just "wing" it in Scotland. ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

Thanks in advance.


Posted by
9035 posts

Since you will have data access via Tmobile, Google Translate is the best; it's 100% free and handles all languages.

Posted by
1024 posts

Another vote for Google Translate. If what I had to ask was somewhat lengthy, I would just show the person I was attempting to communicate with my phone screen. This way I wouldn't have to butcher the French language! It's very easy to use as well.

Posted by
223 posts

If you're just looking to make quick translations on the run, and maybe take photos of signs and have them translated, Google Translate is pretty good, for a machine translation.

If you're writing something down more formally and want it to be understood, I recommend translating it in Google Translate, pasting that translation into Bing Translator (also an app) to translate it back to English, and then resolving problematic translation issues using Word Reference (also an app). That still may not resolve problems such as calling an email un courrier electronique, which (in my experience) hardly anyone does. Most people call it un email or un e-mail.

Posted by
8675 posts

One more vote for Google Translate. It's easy to use, fast, it will speak the words so you hear the correct pronunciation, it's super easy to write long text & copy it to paste in email, and most importantly it's very accurate.

Posted by
1 posts

Another good option is Microsoft translator. Its available for too.

Posted by
31679 posts


While Google Translate works reasonably well, it's not perfect and in some cases is completely wrong! I've tested it with native speakers of French, German and Italian on trips over several years and the most frequent comment is, "it sort of gets the meaning across but it's not perfect". I've also had comments like, "No, that's completely wrong".

You might also consider one of the basic language courses such as Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone or others, in conjunction with a phrase book (have a look at the books sold on this website). Use translator apps more for reference, as they wont provide the ability to function perfectly in another language.

I've always maintained that the best translator in the world is the one sitting on top of my shoulders, and have been taking language courses whenever possible.

Posted by
8675 posts

Hmm... I speak French and used Google Translate yesterday for many long, complicated emails and when I read the text in French it was all correct.

Not saying Google Translate can't make mistakes, I'm sure it can, I'm only saying I haven't seen any in the 4 mos I've been using it.

10+ years ago I tried using Google Translate many times and it was so bad, I gave up. When my son recommended it 4 mos ago I was very skeptical, but was pleasantly surprised it is now as good as it is.

I've only used it for, and know, French... can't speak for any other language.

Posted by
9035 posts

some cases is completely wrong

Google Translate has never been advertised as the equivalent of the Star Trek Universal Translator. Instead it's a tool that one can use as a last resort when educating guessing, pointing, and primitive sign language all fail. Personally I mostly use the camera feature most often to translate restaurant menus, and nutrition/ingredient labels at the supermarket.

Posted by
12 posts

Is "Translate it for Google Translate" the app? (costs $2.99) I have an iPhone 5. Is it actually a special app, or do you have to go to on the Internet to use it? Thanks.

Posted by
7022 posts

I used google translate in Russia and it not only gave us the phrases which we could immitate and printed it on the screen in cyrillic script -- we have also used it in France and Spain. Free. Works. Good enough. (we could also read store labels in Russia just using the phone to photograph and translate-- really handy for reading labels in the supermarket)

Posted by
107 posts

I'm not sure it matters.

I have not found the need to use a translator app in either France or Germany. I've found that pretty much everybody in either place speaks English. Or certainly enough to take care of the sort of issues you are likely to encounter.

I had one occasion, in a French Subway sandwich shop of all places, where the clerk had no idea what I was trying to order. The person in line behind me was kind enough to sort it out and everything was fine :)