When it comes to translating on-the-go, fumbling with a dictionary or an electronic translator can waste time and energy. That's why the new handwriting feature added in the just-released Google Translate 2.0 update will prove indispensably useful to anyone who needs a quick translation.
The app, which is currently only available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (sorry Droid-lovers), now lets you use a fingertip to write anything you need translated. By tapping the hand-write icon and scribbling in what you need, the app inputs whatever you wrote in the language of your choice and then allows you to choose from a selection of over 70 languages to translate to. Currently, the app supports handwritten text input for 49 languages, with the update adding seven new ones: Bosnian, Cebuano, Hmong, Javanese, Khmer, Lao and Marathi.
The Google Translate interface also looks and operates more smoothly with the update, with less software crashes — a problem that was frequent in the older version.
Like before, the free Google Translate app features a speech-to-text input, so the nice Russian lady at the souvenir shop can speak directly into your phone's mic and tell you exactly how much she's ripping you off. The app handily stores all translated phrases in a list below the text input box in case you need to refer back to a translated phrase, which I personally find infinitely useful. No more translating and re-translating something I didn't memorize (hey, everyone's a little forgetful, right?).
You can also have the app speak any translated phrase back to you in a slightly robotic but nonetheless comprehensible voice, like a multilingual Siri.