You can now access the world's major languages with your Android device even when you don't have an Internet connection. Just make sure your device has enough storage for your expanded vocabulary.
Google recently released a new version of Google Translate on Android for devices running versions 2.1 and up that includes offline translation functionality. So if you're planning to take a trip to France, just download the French language pack to your phone or tablet, and you'll have plenty of bon mots on hand for sipping café au lait on the Seine.
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To get started, download Translate for Android from Google Play. From the app, you can download languages for offline use by tapping the menu icon. Depending on your Android version, the menu button will either be the three-square icon in the upper right corner or a soft button on your phone. Next, select "Offline languages" from the menu, which will take you to a screen listing all the various languages Google Translate has available for offline mode. At this writing, there were 50 offline languages available out of nearly 70 languages that Google Translate supports--they include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, and Japanese.
Tap the pin icon next to the language you want to download for offline use, and the app will grab that pack. Before you start downloading, however, Google Translate will warn you that these language packs are big and gives you the choice to download them only over Wi-Fi. Then you have to wait for a one-time "Core Language Pack" download to finish before your device will actually start downloading your language pack of choice. Each language pack is fairly sizable, coming in around 150MB--that works out to about 5 or 6 languages per gigabyte.
In my tests, I downloaded Chinese, French, and Hebrew weighing in at 160MB, 157MB, and 161.3MB, respectively. Your downloaded language packs appear at the top of the "Offline languages" screen once they're installed.
Using Google Translate is pretty straightforward: you type in the phrase you want translated at the bottom of the screen; tap Enter, and Translate spits out the answer. You can then share, copy, or view a full screen version of each translation with a single tap. Google's app also comes with some nifty extras that require a data connection, including handwriting recognition and speech-to-text. You can also use your camera to snap an image of text and have Google's servers try to translate it for you.
Google Translate for Android also has a favorites tab to save translations you want to have quick access to while on the go. There's some bad news, though: This feature does not sync with the customized phrasebook service Google rolled out for the Web version of Google Translate earlier in March.
Overall, Google Translate is a solid little app and the addition of offline language makes it a great choice for anyone planning a holiday or business trip overseas.