Travel can be stressful, particularly if you’re traveling to a place where your command of the local language is shaky at best. Phrasebooks and pocket translators are good options, but if your memory is poor or you don’t want to rely on “canned,” outdated responses while traveling, you probably want a natural speech translation. One really stellar option I found was Jibbigo Translator.
What is it and what does it do
Jibbigo Translator is a free app that lets you speak naturally and get instant translations into a variety of foreign languages.
- Excellent interface
- Over 25 languages supported
- Use online translators, or upgrade to offline translators to tackle different regional languages
- Enter your query in English and get a response from your conversation partner on the same screen: just pass the phone back and forth
- Adjustable translation playback speed
- Show or hide romanization of languages using a different alphabet
- There is an option for turning on explicit language, should you want that
- Languages are localized to a particular country (so there are Spanish options for both Spain and Mexico, and English options for both the US/Canada and the UK)
- Not all language options are created equal: some are more prone to incorrect inputs, and some don’t allow conversation partners speaking a foreign language to use the mic on their side of the screen
- IAP required for offline bundles
- App tends to focus on Asian and European languages: no African languages supported, and only one regional style of Arabic
Here’s how it works: hold down the mic button and say the sentence or word you want to translate. Your translation will pop up automatically. It’s that simple! Translation takes, at most, 2 seconds.
To give it a bit of a pressure test, I tested Jibbigo’s ability to handle words that sound similar. For example, the words for hospital and beauty parlor are very similar in Japanese. Jibbigo did a great job of differentiating between them! When it came to English, the app was intelligent enough to tell homophones apart based on context (right vs. write, for example.)
There does seem to be a bit of a difference in quality between the various languages, however. For example, when translating between English and Danish, I felt that my verbal English inputs were more often incorrectly heard than in the Japanese translator. Moreover, the Danish setting didn’t allow for audible pronouncements of the on-screen Danish text, or the ability for a Danish conversation partner to speak into the mic and respond to your query.
The free, online version of the app supports the following languages: Arabic (Iraq), Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Esperanto, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Pashto (Afghanistan), Romanian, Russian, Spanish (both Mexico and Spain), Tagalog, and Thai. English inputs can be given in “international” (aka UK) and US/Canada styles. Additional regional bundles can be purchased to cover other languages. More languages are planned for later versions of the app.
Conclusion and download link
If you want to have a great translation app in your pocket, this is a really impressive option. There are some minor issues here and there, but overall, I’m really impressed. For both online and offline translations, this simple app is a great communication tool.
Version reviewed: 2.1
Supported OS: Requires iOS 5.0 or later
Download size: 15.7MB