When travelling to a non-English speaking country, my main concern (which I am sure is shared with many others) is that I find myself unable to read an important bit of information either on a sign, menu or elsewhere. English text will already appear in the more popular locations such as airports, but a little further afield the native language will be the only visible option to give any clues of your next move.

Worldictionary – Instant Translation and Search is one possibility that will ease your confusion, packing a fairly substantial selection of possible language translations all within one handy app.

Worldictionary recognises a wide selection of languages including Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. Certainly an impressive language line-up allowing for plenty of flexibility for your translation woes.

To translate you might expect to type the phrase in manually, however instead you simply point your iPhone camera at an individual word – carefully aiming the on-screen indicator. Within a moment a translation of that single word appears, allowing you to move onto the next until you complete a whole sentence. This will work perfectly fine for figuring out a sign or short sentence, however when paragraphs are part of the equation – patience will be required by the bucket load as you painstakingly scan each individual word by turn. Your scans are saved within the app so you can step back and view the translations that appeared earlier, viewable by either scrolling a wheel or by taking a look at the ‘History’ area.

You can also capture an image with an appropriate camera app, importing this picture into Worldictionary and tapping each word with your finger for the translation to occur. Finally you can always fall back on the traditional ‘typing in manually’ routine.

With each word translated, you can call up additional information and content by using Google, Wikipedia and even YouTube. These will provide a little more clarity in understanding the context of a word and YouTube will just provide videos that will be unlikely to help unless you have scanned an event or location. Words can be bookmarked for longer term recall and even emailed or sent within a text message (SMS).

The main gripe I have with the app is that it requires a data connection (access to the Internet) to be able to translate. With the cost of data roaming charges and the often inability to locate free Wi-Fi locations, you may find yourself more often than not unable to use this otherwise useful app. It is quite an oversight to rely on the Internet to gather this information and will extremely limit usability when implementing the features when abroad.


Translation and search features work well within Worldictionary, offering a fairly pleasant method of translating the various languages it supports. It isn’t the most inspirational app you will ever use and its overall implementation of scanning each word one by one isn’t the most satisfying, however it does what’s required with little fuss. For serious translations though, your tendency will be to hop on to a computer and use Google Translate.

Its Achilles heel though is that it requires an on-line connection to work correctly, so if you are overseas requiring the services of Worldictionary – you may find yourself out of luck unless you can find an Internet connection.

[xrr rating=3/5]

[UPDATE – 16th April, 2013]: Worldictionary now allows for offline translation and can translate whole paragraphs at once.

iTunes Store Link: Worldictionary – Instant Translation and Search

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James Woodcock

James is a Freelance Journalist, Copywriter, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming, gadgets and technology, both retro and modern. Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles, including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, whilst also interviewing well-known industry figures for popular online publications. Creator of the ScummVM Music Enhancement Project and host of the Game & Gadget Podcast. View his portfolio for more information.

James Woodcock has 1076 posts and counting. See all posts by James Woodcock

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