Converse iPhone app turns your phone into a double-ended language translator


May 4, 2010

We've all been there - you're trying to communicate with someone who doesn't speak your language and you don't speak theirs, and no amount of charades and gesturing will do the trick. You need a toilet and he's wondering why you're telling him your brother eats flies. Converse is the name of a new app that will soon become available which is claimed to turn your iPhone into a double ended language translator – a multilingual, face-to-face instant messaging conversation. It's one of the most innovative uses of the iPhone's form factor we've yet seen, with both people able to type on a keyboard in their own language at the same time and have the words translated and displayed for the other person. If it works as advertised, Converse is set to significantly reduce communication problems on holidays and business trips. The new app enables an English speaker to communicate with people in 51 different languages and keyboards accommodate non-Latin languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Thai, Czech, Hebrew and Ukrainian scripts.

You can ask a question by simply typing it in, just like a text message or email. The text is then immediately translated into your chosen language and displayed on the other end of the screen. The person can then respond to the question in their language in exactly the same way and their response is translated, then displayed to you in the Queen's English.

This novel twist on language translation is claimed to use “the best language translation APIs available on the web” and enable “fluent complex text-based conversations with almost anyone in the world.” Now if you've ever played with web translation, you'll know this is a big claim, but with a price of just GBP1.79, even if it's only half that good it'll have a nuclear level bang-per-buck factor as translation apps are among the highest priced apps in the iTunes store. Whatsmore, the convenience of having a single word or phrase translator for rough and ready translations on the go will be simply too good to pass up.

Languages included Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bulgarian,Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh and Yiddish.

The publisher's site will go live shortly here.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

Multipurpose operation. Very useful.

Dr.a.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India


Has it occurred to anybody that someone could easily snatch your phone while they are supposedly typing in a message to translate to you?


I\'ve similar thought like windykites1.

Zulkef Abdul

Great, but would be even better if the translated text would be read back vocally!. This would make the application market grow massive, for instance, when going abroad, dealing with foreign visitors, improve airport staff communication whilst doing searching of bags/people, thus reducing the use of translaters (also applicable to Home Office and Police authorities), and then theirs the foreign students that study in the UK.

Having a device that you can translate vocal speech from one language, to another vocal language would be outstanding! ... and worth paying £14.99, rather the present £1.79.

If you wish, I can test the prototype for you in the real market place.

You heard it first here!

Harpal Sahota.

Harpal Sahota

Yes, perhaps theft can be a problem...but use it cautiously, for example, do not use it with some person on the street because you require directions. Go into a gas station and ask the clerk to help you there.

Victoria Tsorlianos
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