Google is trying its utmost to become the first word in online translation – but it’s taken its eye off the ball when it  comes to offline translations and Microsoft has stolen a march on both Anroid and iOS – here’s how…


Microsoft Translator app

Back in February, Microsoft updated its Translator app to support offline translation on Android, and it’s just done the same for its iOS version, beating Google to the punch in the process.

The Microsoft Translator app on both platforms is powered by deep learning, whereby a neural network is trained on millions of phrases, and not only works in much the same way as Google’s online offering, is believed to be of comparable quality and could help save on data costs when abroad.

In launching its offline functionality on Android, Microsoft brought its technology in line with Google’s offering.

Although Google Translate on Android serves up offline translation of text and photographs containing text, its iOS app is online-only, meaning Microsoft’s Translator app is the first from a major company to come with offline translation on Apple, and the first on iOS to use a neural network.

So what does the Microsoft Translator app offer?

Microsoft’s iOS app currently supports 43 languages – including Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish – and the libraries for all must be downloaded before using the app offline.

And although the Android version only launched with nine languages, Microsoft says it is updating the app to support the ever-expanding catalogue.

Obviously, if you’re looking to translate reams of copy, business documents, or flowing prose you should go to a tried and trusted translation business, but if you’re just looking to translate something like a menu, a sign post, or a street name then an app like this is perfect.

The Translator app is a free download available from the iOS App Store and Google Play, and at 60MB is a relatively small download – but each language pack will add around 250MB on to the download.