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App shootout: Google Translate versus Microsoft Translator

Google has released an update to its Translate app for mobile devices. We have made a side by side comparison with the Microsoft Translator app so you can compare and decide which is best.
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By Eileen Brown, Contributor on
App shootout: Google Translate vs. Microsoft Translator ZDNet
1 of 10 Microsoft Marketplace and iTunes

Which translation app will best deliver what you need? Here we make a side-by-side comparison of similar features between Microsoft Translator for Windows Phone and Google Translate app for Android.

App shootout: Google Translate vs. Microsoft Translator ZDNet
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App access from the homescreen

Both products have different ways of showcasing the app from the home screen.

Microsoft has Live Tiles with a word of the day available in 36 languages. Pin the app to your start screen tiles.

Google Android has a standard icon or you can create a widget on home page pre- configured to convert to your chosen language and input method (keyboard, camera, voice or freehand).

App shootout: Google Translate vs. Microsoft Translator ZDNet
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Keyboard and freestyle

Standard features included in each version of translate apps are:

Microsoft Translator: Text, voice, camera.

Google Translate: SMS translation, phrasebook, dialects, text, voice, camera, freehand.

Both apps enable text to speech with translations spoken with a native speaker's accent. Text to speech needs an Internet connection.

Both apps translate voice to other languages with an opportunity to copy text to the clipboard for use in other apps.

App shootout: Google Translate vs. Microsoft Translator ZDNet
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Conversation history

Microsoft Translator remembers previous translations in its history. These can be copied to a clipboard app for use elsewhere.

Google Translate lets you save your translations by starring them and access them from any of your devices.

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Supported languages

Microsoft Translator has the ability to translate over 45 languages with Klingon (plqaD) as one option. It states that it supports languages that cover more than 95 percent of worldwide gross domestic product (GDP).

The app offers automatic language detection in voice conversation mode. It will recognise which of the two selected languages is being spoken, allowing you to have a more fluid conversation with another person.

Google Translate has far more languages on offer (90). Here are the languages which the Google app supports which are not available for Microsoft Translator: Afrikaans, Albanian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Basque, Belarusian, Bengali, Bosnian, Cebuano, Chichewa, Croatian, Esperanto, Filipino, Galician, Georgian, Gujarati,  Hausa, Icelandic, Igbo, Irish,  Javanese, Kannada, Kazakh, Khmer, Lao, Latin,  Macedonian, Malagasy, Malayalam, Maori, Marathi, Mongolian, Myanmar (Burmese), Nepali, Punjabi, Serbian, Sesotho, Sinhala, Somali, Sundanese, Swahili, Tajik, Tamil, Telugu, Uzbek, Yiddish, Yoruba, Zulu. It also enables you to read non-Latin scripts converted to English letters (e.g. Pinyin, Romaji).

Speech-to-speech translation makes it easy to have a natural conversation with someone in a foreign language.

Both apps offer downloadable offline language packs to enable translation when you are not connected to the Internet. However the voice translation feature requires an Internet connection for both products.

Neither product has autodetect for voice.

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Synchronisation

Microsoft Translator has an option to copy text translations to the clipboard for use in other apps.

Google Translate has the ability to sync all historical translated conversations across devices.

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Microsoft Translator: Instant camera translation

Microsoft Translator: To instantly translate using the camera; point the camera at the text you want to translate to your chosen language (top left image). You can use the lamp function to illuminate the text. The phone will vibrate when the text has been translated. The translation appears above the printed text in augmented reality as it is translated (bottom left image).

Tapping the screen will pause the real-time translation, copies the text to screen (right hand image) and enables the voice icon to hear the translation. The text translation can then be copied to the clipboard.

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Google Translate: Step by step camera translation: 1

Google Translate has recently been updated to instantly translate text. Before this week's update, here is how the camera translate function works. Use the camera function to hover over the text and capture it in a still image. You can use the light function to better illuminate the text.

The app scans the text (top right image). Select the text manually (bottom left image) and the translation appears above the text (bottom right image).

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Google Translate: Step by step camera translation: 2

Google Translate history function stores the captured text with voice capability.

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Google Translate: Instant camera translation

the new Google Translate camera app will now instantly translate the chosen text, even without an Internet connection. Languages currently available are: English French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Word Lens does seem to have a couple of issues with camera translation when it is pointed at glossy or curved objects with text.

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