Bing Translator gets faster, more accurate translation, plus offline voice overhaul

Published by at

Much underrated (and not helped by a mass of copycat front ends in the Windows Phone Store), Bing Translator is a terrific language tool for occasions when you're totally stuck in another country/tongue, even without access to roaming data. Whether passing the phone from person to person or translating written text or (old school) typing something in, Translator has you covered, now with faster and more accurate translation.

Bing Translator is perhaps the premier language tool on Windows Phone, here's the description in the Store:

Bing Translator is your companion when you need to overcome the language barrier. Use your camera, voice or keyboard to enter text you want to translate. Use Bing Translator on-the-go, even when you don't have an Internet connection.

  • Text translation – Type and translate text into more than 40 languages.
  • Camera translation – Translate signs, menus, newspapers, or any printed text with your device's camera in an instant.
  • Voice translation – Translate by speaking into your phone. Voice translation requires a network connection.
  • Text to speech – Hear translations spoken with a native speaker's accent. Text to speech requires a network connection.
  • Offline translation – Translate when you are not connected to the Internet and when you want to avoid expensive data roaming charges, by using downloadable offline language packs.
  • Word of the Day – Improve your vocabulary by pinning the Translator to your Start screen.
  • Pin each mode to your Start screen and jump straight to translating in a single tap.
  • Copy and paste or use your keyboard to quickly enter the text you want to translate.

It's fair to say that similar functionality is available on other platforms, e.g. through rival Google's own translation services. But that shouldn't put you off installing Microsoft's well rounded offering.

Here's the changelog for Bing Translator v2.8 since v2.5, which we featured around a year ago:

  • Redesigned offline packs UI (new for v2.8)
  • Faster and more accurate voice translation (new for v2.8)
  • Camera translation for Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian and Swedish
  • Offline translation for Dutch, Norwegian, Russian and Swedish
  • Lamp in camera mode
  • Remove history items one by one
  • Camera and offline translation for Portuguese
  • Text tracking improvements for camera translation

Screenshot, Bing TranslatorScreenshot, Bing Translator

As ever, Bing Translator opens up with overview graphics front and centre, highlighting the main things you can do with it...

Screenshot, Bing TranslatorScreenshot, Bing Translator

The language choice is truly vast, though it's important to note that only the most common dozen or so are available for audio recognition and playback (and, by extension, with offline packs available); (right) interestingly and usefully, each module in Bing Translator can be defaulted to a different language, depending on your needs and use case.

Screenshot, Bing TranslatorScreenshot, Bing Translator

Translation the old fashioned way, typing in your text using the keyboard and seeing written (and, in this case, audio) response; (right) using the camera to translate written text, in this case from English to Spanish, though I have to say that this doesn't look at all right: I'd have expected something along the lines of "Es la hora de acostarse todavía?" Comments?

Screenshot, Bing TranslatorScreenshot, Bing Translator

A dozen or so languages have offline packs which let you translate using voice, camera or text without incurring any data charges back to Microsoft's servers. 35MB doesn't seem excessive and will certainly be useful next time I go to France or a French-speaking country.

Screenshot, Bing TranslatorScreenshot, Bing Translator

Usefully, shortcuts to each of the main translation methods can be pinned individually as live tiles, as shown here, each with default languages/directions pre-defined; (right) Klingon makes an appearance here, which should get you street cred in the right circles, if used right. Maybe!

All well and good, even if machine translations rarely get that close to what a native speaker might use. The voice translation, in conjunction with an offline pack and the one button reversal of translation direction, do make this application a potentially life saving tool in a sticky situation.

You can download Bing Translator 2.8 for free here in the Windows Phone Store.

Source / Credit: All About Windows Phone