Developer: SayHi
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.5
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Update: 5/24/12, Version 2.0

The most user-friendly translation app on the App Store just got even more accommodating. Firstly, the interface has been tweaked to make it easier to use. Bug fixes and the addition of a volume control also made the cut. The most notable changes are the option to use a computerized male or female voice and the ability to control the speed of the playback. I never mentioned it in the initial review but the translations tended to be pronounced rather quickly which made them tough to understand and therefore repeat. Being able to slow them down will make bridging language barriers that much easier.

The need for language translation is largely dependent on a person’s situation. For example, someone deep in rural Spain has little need to know how to say anything that isn’t in Spanish. Someone like myself, however, in the middle of a bustling metropolis with pockets of inhabitants and visitors that represent virtually every system of speech in the world, well it’s a bit more important. Anyone who’s ever tried to talk to another person who can barely speak a word of their native language knows how tough it can be. With an app like SayHi Translate, it just might be a whole lot easier.

Pick two languages. Tap the screen. Speak into the iPhone in the chosen language, then hear the translation in the other. SayHi Translate is just that simple. It uses voice recognition to figure out what’s being said, beams the info to a server, gets the translation, and sends it all back in moments. The app currently supports 23 different languages (some of which are actually different regional dialects), and users can switch between them at any time.

Aside from being super simple to use and eerily effective, SayHi Translate has a few more things going for it. I know 23 isn’t a ton of languages when considering just how many there are in the world, but it’s still quite a lot. And those that are available are among the most popular in just about any cultural hub. It also displays words or phrases for both languages (spoken and converted) on-screen along with the computer-generated audio translation, so it’s easy to spot a discrepancy and try again if needed. “Conversations” can be stored (so long as the language isn’t changed), and specific entries can be replayed with a single tap. The usefulness for all manner of scenarios should be obvious at this point.

SayHi Translate is impressively accurate, but it’s not totally perfect. As with all speech recognition software, it sometimes misses the mark if someone isn’t speaking clearly or concisely enough. Thanks to the on-screen display it’s easy enough to spot a screw up, but there are bound to be times when users have to repeat themselves. Possibly more than once. A bigger caveat is that it uses software stored on servers to do the actual translating. It keeps the size of the app down, but the flip-side is that it also requires an online connection via 3G/4G or Wi-Fi. Without either the app is dead in the water.

Assuming someone has a need for language translation and a wireless internet connection of some sort, SayHi Translate is definitely the app for them. It’s incredibly user-friendly, accurate, and doubtlessly useful under certain circumstances. I can only imagine how handy it would be at my own job were I able to pull out my phone in mid-conversation. It’d prevent lots of headaches.


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