Best App for Translating Printed Text



Babelshot Screenshot

Takes a steady hand: The app’s translations are only as good as the photos you take. When you give it clear, crisp, well-lit text (iPhone 3GS yields best results), the app can translate even long blocks of text. Highlight the text to translate, as shown here, and off it goes. Babelshot can read the fine print, but it especially shines with large, Western-language text. It’s spotty at reading script or all-caps signs, and bails out completely on Asian or Arabic characters. Never fear: If the photo recognition fails you, you can type the text directly or edit to correct errors.


Babelshot Screenshot

In other words: It takes Babelshot about 15 seconds to read a long paragraph of text, faster for short snippets. When it’s done, it ships the result to Google for translation. The app shows the original text in the top pane, the translated text below. Tap the top pane to correct any errors Babelshot might have made reading the original text, or tap the X icon to clear it and type your own text to translate. Tap the inbox icon at top right to save the translation.

Top Pick


Version: 1.0.0
Website: Codium Labs

Ordering off a foreign-language menu? Not sure what might arrive on your plate? Snap a photo of the menu, and Babelshot tells you what’s for dinner. The app works its magic on signs, menus, even newspapers, translating photographed text to and from 48 languages. It’s great for traveling abroad, except that it requires Internet access which limits the app to WiFi when you travel, unless you shell out for pricey international data roaming. (The good news: Babelshot transfers only modest amounts of data, so it should be relatively gentle to your roaming bill if you go that route.)

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PicTranslator is an iPhone app that turns the iPhone camera into a point-and-shoot translator. With the ability to translate printed text from 16 languages into 51 languages, PicTranslator could be the one travel app that all international travelers can benefit from. Being able to translate text from pictures saved on the photo roll is a great feature that allows users to translate at the text at their convenience. PicTranslator offers voice pronunciation for text translated into English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish making it easy for users to learn a new language or feel more confident when trying to communicate during their travels.

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