Microsoft wins the race against Google to offline translation on iOS

You’ve likely experienced interacting with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you at least once in your life — things can get real awkward real quick. In today’s increasingly global society, these interactions are going to become more common, and unless you speak multiple languages, the best way to communicate may be to use translation apps on your phone.

Most of these apps, however, work online only. Except the Microsoft Translator app, that is. As of today, Microsoft Translator is able to translate both text and images whether you have an internet connection or not. Unfortunately, automatic speech translation does not work in the offline version of the app.

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The update means that Microsoft has beat out everyone — including Google — to offline translation on iOS. Google has long been a champion of translation, first with its Translate desktop service, then with its translation apps. Of course, Microsoft didn’t beat Google on Google’s home turf — both Microsoft’s Translator app and Google Translate already work offline on Android. When Microsoft launched the feature on Android, it was catching up with Google. Now it’s Google’s turn to play catch up on iOS.

The app supports 43 languages, but if you want to translate offline you’ll need to download the appropriate libraries before losing your Internet connection. So, if you’re planning a trip to France, you may want to download the library for French before you leave. While it took a while to bring offline translation to the iOS app, Microsoft is launching with way more languages than the Android version — at launch the Android version only had nine languages. Microsoft says it’s planning to update the Android app to support the new library of languages.

Hopefully, Google will update its iOS translate app in the near future to compete with Microsoft on iPhones. In the meantime, you can download the Microsoft Translate app on the iOS App Store.

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