Well, I am going to tell you about a super cool App that I was introduced to when I was sent on a business trip to Mexico City recently.
A business trip to Mexico! Sounds really cool, right? I thought so too – lucky me.
But then I realized that I haven’t done a lot of travelling in my lifetime and certainly not much outside of English speaking North America. So I was more than a little nervous about going, by myself, to a place where I wasn’t sure how I was going to communicate.
I can’t even speak French – the second official language of my own country – much less, Spanish!
I knew that my business meetings would be in English and there would likely be English in the hotel but what about everywhere else? The thought of walking around with no way of talking to people made me feel very vulnerable.
My boss travels a lot and, sensing my apprehension, he suggested that I download the Google Translate App onto my smartphone. If you remember, I blogged about getting my first smartphone last year and so far, the only App I have is Solitaire.
So I took his advice and downloaded Google Translate. (truth be told, I had my daughter download it for me) FYI, it’s Free.
I am here to tell you that Google Translate is the coolest piece of technology I’ve seen in a long time.
With Google Translate, you can type in what you want to say and translate it into 103 different languages. You need to be connected to the internet to get all 103 languages but if you don’t have internet you can still translate into 52 different languages.
If you think that you might have trouble with internet access while travelling (it can be spotty in many parts of the world), there is an option to download the data of the language(s) that you will need in advance so you can use it anytime and anywhere without an internet connection.
I used the App while in Mexico and I felt so much more comfortable.
I was able to ask the taxi driver: “how long to the hotel?”
cuánto tiempo hasta el hotel?
I could order my breakfast at Starbucks: “plain bagel with cream cheese please”
bagel con queso crema por favor
and other important phrases like: “what is the price of the shoes?”
¿cuál es el precio de los zapatos?
Cool so far? It gets cooler.
I managed my trip successfully armed with my communication helper but I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what this Google Translate App can do.
You can use your microphone to talk into your phone and it will translate and then actually say it. You can then hand the phone to the person you’re talking to and they can say their response into the phone in their language and it will translate back to English.
You can now have a conversation using your phone as the translator!
But wait! There’s more.
I had to go back down to Mexico and it was a larger event this time so my boss was there too. The trip was successful – thanks for asking – and Brian and I arrived early at the Mexico airport for our trip home. We decided to have lunch.
The airport restaurant menu had the meal selections in English but the descriptions were in Spanish. Not sure what the point of that was but, no worries, I was prepared with my App! I chose a roast beef sandwich and wanted to know what was on it.
I switched the translation to “Spanish to English” and typed in “queso suizo”, “mayonesa”, “mostaza” and “hongos”.
Okay, the sandwich had swiss cheese, mayonaise, mustard and mushrooms. Yum!
I was feeling pretty proud of myself until I looked over at my boss and saw him chuckling. What? I said. He just smiled and said
Babs, get ready to have your mind blown completely
He took his phone, held it over the Spanish text on the menu and waited for it to come into focus. Before my eyes – the Spanish text changed to English!
It just morphed from Spanish to English and I could read it clearly. He moved it to the description of another sándwich on the menu and it flickered, focused and changed to English.
I couldn’t handle it! How do you even create technology that can do that. Was it created by freaking David Copperfield!?!?
This is what technology is supposed to do – make things better, easier! There is a lot of useless technology out there – the Apple watch and the Fit Bit come to mind – but every now and then, something comes along that absolutely hits the mark.
And Google Translate definitely hits the mark.
If you want to see what I’m talking about, below are two links to demonstrations of the App on YouTube. You really need to see it in action to appreciate it.
Check them out to see for yourself and be sure to download the App for your next trip to any exotic land. It will very quickly become your best travel companion.
**I need to add here that I was not able to use the camera part of the App because I have an older version smartphone. I’m not rushing out to upgrade my phone, I was very happy typing in what I needed but I thought you should know.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net