Version Reviewed: 1.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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I'm still waiting for the day when something like the universal Language Communicator in Star Trek or the Babel Fish in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comes true. I'm convinced the day will be in my lifetime but for now, I'll have to live with apps like Converse which is quite useful despite a few limitations.
Converse is a language translator tool with two potential uses. Splitting the iPad screen into two, it allows the user to hold it between them and someone who speaks another language, they can then converse by typing in sentences and pressing the send button thus sending it to the other side of the screen and translating as it transfers across. This will immediately make conversations a touch easier. The other purpose of Converse is to use it alone as a back up translation tool while out and about. This however is where one major flaw comes into play.
Converse depends upon an internet connection in order to perform its translations. As an owner of a Wi-Fi only iPad, this means I'd always need to find a freely available Wi-Fi network. While in some locations, this is very easy to do, other times it's near impossible. For users considering taking it abroad with them, this could be a particular nuisance which is surely the key market to aim such an app at.
Converse also suffers from a limited number of languages. Users can only translate between English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch. While that's a good mixture of languages to cover Europe, for users outside of the continent, it could be limiting. Translation is also restricted to word to word conversion rather than adjusting according to syntax which feels like another opportunity missed.
Other than that, Converse is a solid app. It just feels in need of some added functionality to make it a true must buy. As a back up solution however, it does the job and could well help out in a time of need. Just don't rely on it too much.