How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Updated Google app interprets quickly across many languages – but some things are still lost in translation

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Google has updated its flagship translation app with new tools that promise to help even the most monolingual of travellers successfully negotiate their way around foreign parts.

The app has a range of new functions including a conversation mode, where two people can speak to one another in their own tongue with Google translating live, and a scanning mode, which translates text instantly on screen. So how well does it work?

Conversation mode

The old version of the Google Translate app allowed two people to speak to one another across languages by just touching a button to change the language detection mode.

The update goes one step further and can now listen for two languages simultaneously, meaning two people can speak into a device and have their words translated into the other person’s language.

In a video review of the updated app, Mashable found that conversation mode can be a bit hit and miss, occasionally getting things very wrong indeed. Conversation mode also edits out expletives in a rather humorous way: “Holy s – asterisk, asterisk, asterisk”.

More languages

The app’s conversation mode used to only handle English to Spanish translation, but it can now manage French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian. Google says that more languages will be added in future as well.

Gizmodo says that Google’s latest updates are an attempt to take on Skype, which recently released its own translation service. Adding as many languages as possible may be a part of that strategy, the site suggests.

Word Lens

Prior to the current release, users could take a photo of text in another language and have it translated into their language of choice. With Word Lens, the app goes a step further and will attempt to translate text live on screen as you aim your camera at a sign, menu or a page of text.

The system is impressive, but is hampered by its limited font recognition – it struggles with some serif fonts for example – and the inevitable wobble that occurs when you try to hold a camera steady in front of something makes it hard for the app to focus the camera’s lens.


Google Translate now allows you to enter text by drawing it on the screen with your finger. It recognises printing and cursive, and is very powerful – accurately identifying even the most semi-legible scrawl.


Overall, the new features make Google Translate “a great companion for a trip abroad”, says Time magazine.

The Verge’s Amar Toor agrees, saying that most of the new features work well. “The app’s speech recognition is fast and mostly accurate, and the (language) it spits back is understandable, for the most part.”

Ariane Bogain, a senior lecturer in modern foreign languages at the University of Northumbria told the BBC that the app will help people with simple interactions, but nothing more complicated than that. “For basic things, it might be very useful. My mother, for example, does not speak any other languages, but loves travelling, so she could find her way around a town. But it is never going to pick up the nuances, the cultural references or the humour,” Bogain says.

According to Google, more than 500 million people use Google Translate every month, making at least one billion translations each day. The new app is available for free on iOS and Android now.

Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast. Read more.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Apple’s Translate app, introduced in iOS 14, allows iPhone users to quickly translate between languages using text or voice input. With speech output, support for a dozen languages, and a comprehensive built-in dictionary, it’s an essential tool for travelers. Here’s how to use it.

First, locate the “Translate” app. From the Home screen, swipe downward with one finger on the middle of your screen to open “Spotlight.” Type “translate” into the search bar that appears, then tap the “Apple Translate” icon.

If you don’t see the app in your results, you’ll need to update your phone to iOS 14 or later first.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

When Translate opens, you’ll see a simple interface with mostly white elements.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

To translate something, first make sure you’re in Translate mode by tapping the “Translate” button at the bottom of the screen.

Next, you’ll need to choose the language pair using the two buttons at the top of the screen.

The button on the left sets the language that you’d like to translate from (the source language), and the button on the right sets the language you’d like to translate to (the destination language).

When you tap the source language button, a list of languages will pop up. Select the language you’d like, then tap “Done.” Repeat this action with the destination language button.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

After that, it’s time to enter the phrase you’d like to translate. If you’d like to type it with an on-screen keyboard, tap the “Enter Text” area on the main Translate screen.

When the screen changes, type what you’d like to translate using the on-screen keyboard, then tap “Go.”

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Alternatively, if you’d like to speak the phrase that needs translating, tap the “Microphone” icon on the main Translate screen.

When the screen changes, say the phrase you’d like to translate out loud. As you speak, Translate will recognize the words and write them out on the screen.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

When you’re done, you’ll see the resulting translation on the main screen, just below the phrase you spoke or entered.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Next, pay attention to the toolbar just below the translation results.

If you press the favorite button (which looks like a star), you can add the translation to your Favorites list. You can quickly access it later by pressing the “Favorites” button at the bottom of the screen.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

If you press the “Dictionary” button (which looks like a book) in the toolbar, the screen will to switch to Dictionary mode. In this mode, you can tap each individual word in a translation to see what it means. The dictionary can also help you explore possible alternative definitions for the selected word.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

And finally, if you press the play button (a triangle in a circle) in the toolbar, you can hear the translation result spoken aloud by a computer synthesized voice.

This comes in handy if you need to play back a translation to a local resident while you’re in a foreign land. Have fun!

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Overlooked in favor of widgets, one of the best aspects of iOS 14 for Apple devices is the inclusion of the Translate app. Previously, users could ask Siri for translations, but that is a significantly more limited experience than an app dedicated to translating. While limited to only 11 languages for now, the app is incredibly easy to use and useful for anyone traveling or needing a quick translation. Here is how to use the Apple Translate app in iOS 14.

How to Change Languages

Currently, the translate app supports Arabic, Chinese (China mainland), English (U.S., U.K.), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

1. Open the translate app, and you will immediately see a home screen with two languages at the top.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

2. Select either of the two languages at the top of the app. The left side will be the language you are speaking or writing, and on the right side is the language you want to translate to.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

3. If you do not manually make the selection, the bottom of the language selection screen offers “Automatic Detection,“ which will attempt to detect which language is being spoken.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

How to Translate Speech

Apple calls it “advanced on-device intelligence,” but really it’s just translating spoken speech from one language to another. One major positive is that languages can be downloaded using the app and still be translated even without an Internet connection.

1. Launch the app and verify that the two languages at the top are correct. You can use the guide above to change the language.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

2. Press and hold the microphone button and start speaking. Pause after finishing any statement or question, and the translation will be spoken out loud. It will also be displayed on the screen.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

3.Translations should appear immediately and can either be read on screen or by clicking the “play” icon near the middle of the screen. Pressing that button will play the translation out loud.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

4. When translating a slightly longer phrase or sentence, turn the phone from portrait to landscape mode. You will gain some extra screen real estate this way.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

How to Translate Text

For all 11 languages, there are available keyboard options so that you don’t have to manually switch.

1. Similar to translating via voice, launch the app, and instead of speaking, start typing the text you want to translate.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

2. As you begin to enter text, you can verify again the appropriate languages currently selected right above the keyboard. Finish your text entry and then click “go”.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

3. As it does for translating via voice, the translated text will immediately appear on screen. Again, you have the option to hear the translation out loud as well via the “play” button near the middle of the screen.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Translate App Extras

Even as translations are the focal point of the Translate App, Apple did include a few notable extras:

  • An included dictionary is available so you can tap on any word in the translated language and see a definition.
  • Are there favorite translations that you will want to access later? You can save translations in the Favorites and quickly find them for use in the future.
  • It can be used fully offline, as all 11 languages are available for download. This can be incredibly useful for anyone traveling where there are international data-roaming charges.
  • After a translation is complete, turn the phone to the side and press the double-arrow button that takes the translation full screen. This enlarged text, better known as “attention mode,” can make it easier to read and/or get someone’s attention.

Wrapping Up

While Google Translate has long been the giant in this space, who wouldn’t love a dedicated app by Apple on iOS? With a simple and clean design, Apple’s translate app has everything you need to get going. Meanwhile, do also check out some of the best widgets for iOS 14.


David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

Learn to quickly translate websites, chat in conversation mode, quickly access your favorite phrases, and use the iOS dictionary.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

The Apple Translate app is incredibly versatile, allowing users to translate pages in Safari, convert text messages to a different language, translate conversations, and save and access important phrases. The best part? Each of these translation functions can be accessed with just a few quick taps.

We’ll show you how to do each of these things, and if you’re interested in learning more about the translation functions on your iPhone, consider signing up for our free Tip of the Day. If you’re new to these features, you can also learn the basics of how to use the Apple Translate app. Let’s get started:

Jump To:

  • How to Translate a Page in Safari
  • Translate Text
  • Have a Bilingual Chat in Conversation Mode
  • Quickly Access High Usage Phrases through Favorites
  • Use the Dictionary to Translate Individual Words

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

How to Translate a Page in Safari

The ability to translate entire web pages is now built into Safari. To take advantage of this feature, navigate to a page that doesn’t use a language you speak. Follow the steps below to translate the page to your desired language.

  1. Tap the double “A” icon next to your address bar.
  2. Then simply tap Translate to and select your language.
  3. If prompted, tap Enable Translation.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Translate Text

The Translate app’s core feature is its ability to translate typed text. With support for twelve language options, the app lets you enter a phrase in one language and then translates it to another, useful to travelers and language students alike. To do this:

  1. Open the Translate app.
  2. Select the language you’re translating to and from (if you’ve set your iPhone’s language to English, it will appear as your default).
  3. Enter the phrase.
  4. Tap Go. The translation will appear in blue underneath the entered text.
  5. Tap Play for the spoken translation. You can also tap the microphone button to translate a spoken phrase.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Have a Bilingual Chat in Conversation Mode

For a more organic voice translation option, check out your iPhone’s Conversation Mode. To use Conversation Mode:

  1. Select the language of the text that you would like translated.
  2. Scroll down on the languages list and make sure that Automatic Detection is toggled on. Tap Done.
  3. Then select the language you want the text translated to, and tap Done.
  4. To activate Conversation Mode, turn your phone sideways.
  5. Then just tap the microphone as each person talks and your iPhone will translate the conversation.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Quickly Access High Usage Phrases through Favorites

If you’re planning a trip and need to remember certain phrases, you’re sure to love the Favorites function. When you’ve translated a word or phrase, tap the star below the translation to save it to your Favorites. To access your Favorites, just tap the star at the bottom of the app to see recent and favorite phrases in both the original language and the translation.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Use the Dictionary to Translate Individual Words

Once you’ve translated a phrase, you might be curious about what a specific word in that translation means. Fortunately, there is a dictionary function that lets you look up not only the translation of a specific word but different forms and conjugations as well. Just tap the dictionary icon that looks like a book below the translated phrase, then tap the word you want to define. The dictionary entry will appear below, with plenty of detail to keep you informed and engaged. If you want to check a different word, just tap that and the entry will change. Easy!

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Translating words and phrases into other languages is more comfortable thanks to the new native Translation app for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 for iPhone.

Translating words and phrases into other languages is more comfortable thanks to the new native Translation app for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 for iPhone and iPad, respectively. The app is designed to make conversations across languages feel natural and comfortable, and offers quick setup and customization, as you can see below.

Time to Translate

As a concept, the Translation app envisions two persons communicating side-by-side with a mobile device between them. With the touch of a microphone button, one person says something into the device in their primary language. Automatically, this gets translated into the native language of the other person. Then, the back and forth begins.

At launch, the app supports 11 different languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English (US and UK), French, German, Italy, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Setting Up the App

  1. Tap the Translation app on your Apple device with iOS 14/iPadOS 14 installed.
  2. Choose the two languages for the conversation at the top of the device.
  3. Select Done after setting each language.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Having a Conversation With Voice

  1. Tap the microphone icon at the button of the device.
  2. Ask your question with your voice. When you’re finished speaking, the app automatically translates the inquiry into the other language.
  3. The other person taps the microphone icon.
  4. Answer the question in the second language. When you’re finished speaking, the app automatically translates the inquiry into the other language.
  5. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 throughout the conversation.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Having a Conversation Using Your Keyboard

Rather than using your voice, you can begin or continue to have a conversation by typing your question or phrase.

  1. Tap where it says Enter text at the button of the device.
  2. Type your question with your voice.
  3. Choose Go on the keyboard. The app automatically translates the question into the other language.
  4. The other person taps the microphone icon.
  5. Answer the question in the second language. When you’re finished speaking, the app automatically translates the inquiry into the other language.
  6. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 throughout the conversation.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Customization Tools

The Translation app works in both vertical and horizontal modes. Additionally, as questions or phrases are being added, you can add them to your favorites. For example, you may be in a foreign city and plan on asking for directions often. Rather than say, “Kindly give me directions to the nearest train station” each time, you can save the question as a favorite. Then, you can play the query as needed. Other customization tools make the process more personal, as you can see below.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Saving Favorite Phrases or Questions

To make a saying a favorite in the Translation app, follow these directions:

  1. Tap the microphone icon at the button of the device.
  2. Ask your question with your voice or keyboard.
  3. Select the Favorites icon at the bottom of the app. The phrase is now one of your favorites.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

To remove a favorite.

  1. Tap the Favorites icon on the main Translation app page.
  2. Swipe left the favorite you wish to delete.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Attention mode

With Attention mode, you can enlarge the text in landscape view. By doing so, you can make it easier for someone to read your message or get the other person’s attention.

To activate the mode:

  1. Turn the Translation app in the landscape position.
  2. Ask your question with your voice or keyboard.
  3. Tap the expand icon at the bottom left.

Download for Offline Use

By default, Translation is an online experience. However, you can download languages and use all of the app features offline. When doing so, your translations are private and kept internally on your device, whether or not your internet connection is on.

To download a language pack for offline use:

  1. Tap the Settings app on your device.
  2. Choose the translation app.
  3. Toggle On-device mode.
  4. Select Open App.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone


  1. Tap Download Languages.
  2. Choose the Download icon next to a language under Available Offline Languages.
  3. Select Done.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Once the language gets downloaded, it’s available for offline use.

Great Start!

The new Translation app arrives with iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 this fall. It makes it possible for you to have lengthy conversations with anyone around the world, even when the other person speaks a different language.


    • Free

iPhone Screenshots


The new Translate app in iOS lets you quickly and easily translate your voice and text between any combination of eleven languages. Designed to be the best and easiest-to-use app for translating conversations, Translate combines high-quality translations with an intuitive design, so that having a conversation is natural and simple.

• Conversation mode – Turn the phone to landscape to split the screen and show text from both sides of the conversation. Just tap the single microphone button to say something and the automatic language detection transcribes the original and translated text on the correct sides of the screen, followed by translated audio.

• Voice translation – Translate with your voice quickly and easily without sacrificing quality. Select the language you want to translate to, tap the microphone, and begin speaking.

• On-device mode – Enable a fully offline experience for Translate. Use all the app features for downloaded languages and keep your translations private without needing to turn off your phone’s internet connection.

• Text translation – All languages have their keyboards included for translating text, so you don’t have to download keyboards separately or manually switch between them.

• Favorites – Save translations in the Favorites tab to easily access later. You can also view your recent history and save phrases you just translated.

• Attention mode – Enlarge translated text in landscape mode, making it easier to read and more effective for getting someone’s attention.

• Dictionary – See the definitions of words in your completed translations, so you can learn along the way.

Translate currently supports translation between any combination of these eleven languages: English (US, UK), Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, German, French, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Arabic

App Privacy

The developer, Apple , indicated that the app’s privacy practices may include handling of data as described below. For more information, see the developer’s privacy policy.

Data Not Linked to You

The following data may be collected but it is not linked to your identity:

Privacy practices may vary, for example, based on the features you use or your age. Learn More


English, Arabic, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

  • App Support
  • Privacy Policy
  • App Support
  • Privacy Policy


Family Sharing

With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.

Could anybody explain why my translate app isn’t working? When I type text and then press return nothing happens, and when I try to use voice translation I have an error message that translation is not available.

I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the app and this worked for an hour and then it stopped working again.

I’m using an iPhone 11 Pro Max with iOS 14.4.

Translate works fine on my Mac with Big Sur in Safari.

iPhone 11 Pro Max, iOS 14

Posted on Feb 23, 2021 3:24 PM

All replies

Loading page content

Page content loaded

We understand the translate application doesn’t work. We’re happy to assist.

To get started, we’d recommend providing some more specific details about the issue. Are you unable to translate from/to all languages, or is it just not working when you have specific languages set? Does the device have an internet connection, or are you using the translate app offline?

Answers to questions like these will help give the community a better idea of the exact issue so members can provide more relevant responses.

In the meantime here’s some basic steps on using the Translate application that may be helpful: How to use Translate on your iPhone

We look forward to your response. Cheers!

Feb 25, 2021 8:08 AM

Hi. Thanks for your response.

This issue occurs both offline and online, using downloaded languages with on-device mode, and using online languages. It occurs with any language choices.

This is exactly what happens:

I select the to/from languages (it doesn’t matter what the selection is, or if Inuse on-device languages or not). I tap on ‘Enter text,’ and the keyboard and predicted text comes to the bottom of the screen. I type text to translate and tap ‘go.’ The predictive text words flash briefly, but nothing changes on the screen.

Using the microphone:

I tap on the microphone symbol and immediately a text box comes to the centre of the screen that reads, ‘Translation Unavailable. Translation is unavailable at the moment. Try again at a later time.’

If I uninstall the app and reinstall it, everything works perfectly for a few minutes, and then it reverts back to the same issues stated above.

If you need a quick translation, the iPhone finally has its own built-in translator with iOS 14. Here’s how to translate text and speech on your iPhone.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

If you need to translate speech or text on the go, there are several iPhone apps that can help. However, if you update to iOS 14, you can now tap into Apple’s own built-in Translator app. With the new app, you can translate several different languages, including English, Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, German, Korean, Russian, and Arabic.

Type or speak the words you want translated and the app will display and speak the translation. You can also download several languages to have them translatable offline. Enable automatic detection so the app senses which language is being spoken for real-time conversations.

Update to iOS 14

First, you’ll need to update your iPhone to iOS 14 or higher if you haven’t already done so. On your phone, go to Settings > General > Software Update. Your phone will indicate that your software is up to date or prompt you to download and install the latest update. You should then find the Translate app perched directly on the Home Screen.

Translate Text and Speech

Tap the app. Your first step will likely be to choose the source and target languages. Tap the first language if it’s not already set correctly and change it to the language you want, then tap Done. Tap the second language if necessary and change that to your desired language, then tap Done.

To enter the text you want translated via the keyboard, tap anywhere in the space for “Enter text” and type the text. Tap Go to confirm and the translation appears below your text. Tap the Play button to hear the translation spoken aloud.

If you’d rather speak your phrase, tap the microphone icon. Wait for the Listening message to appear on the screen, then speak and the words display as you say them. Make sure the words on the screen match your spoken words.

The translation appears on the screen and is read aloud. If you want to hear the translation again, tap the Play icon.

Save to Favorites and Define Words

If you plan to use a phrase in the future and want to save it for later, tap the Star icon next to the translated text to make it a Favorite. Tap the book icon, and you can look up each translated word in a dictionary for a definition. Once you tap the icon, the first word in the translation is highlighted and defined. You can then tap another word in the translation to see its dictionary definition.

Tap the Favorites icon in the bottom navigation to view any phrases you’ve added to your Favorites list as well as any recently translated phrases. If you wish to remove a favorite phrase from the list, swipe it to the left and tap the icon for Unfavorite.

Swipe down to see the recent phrases. Swipe a recent phrase to the left to add it as a Favorite or delete it from the list.

Enable Automatic Detection

You can coax the app to automatically translate a phrase based on the language being spoken. This can come in handy if you’re trying to have a back-and-forth conversation with someone speaking a different language.

The iPhone’s iOS 14 operating system is bringing a ton of new features to Apple’s smartphone–everything from a redesigned calls interface to a new home screen layout. However, iOS 14 is also introducing another dedicated app made by Apple–one simply called Translate.

Meet The New Translate App

Out of all the things Apple introduced in iOS 14, the Translate app was probably the most unexpected. After all, it doesn’t seem like a tech segment Apple has ever expressed interest in. And there are already major players in the language translation app market – including Google and Microsoft.

And now, well, Apple. Introducing the app, Apple said, “Translate is designed to be the best and easiest app for translating conversations, offering a quick and natural translation of voice and text among 11 different languages. On-device mode allows users to experience the features of the app offline for private voice and text translation.”

The MASSIVE Benefit Of Apple’s Translate App (Versus Others)

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

While most translation apps do the same thing (translate written or spoken text into another language) Apple’s has a big advantage of the competitors. Why? Because, as Apple’s statement above mentions, Translate allows for an on-device translation option. What that means is your iPhone is locally processing the translation. In other words, the text you write or speak is not being sent to Apple’s servers to have it translated.

This on-device translation means you never need to worry about Apple (or anyone else) knowing what you’re translating. Do note that this on-device translation mode requires you to download the language packs to your iPhone. If you do not, your translations will be sent to Apple’s servers for processing.

How To Use The New iOS 14 Translate App

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Using the new Translate app is pretty straight forward. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Launch the Translate app.
  2. On the main screen, tap the buttons above to select what language you want to translate from (for example, English) and what language you want to translate to (for example, Spanish).
  3. Next, tap the text entry field and type (or paste) the text you want to be translated. Alternately, tap the microphone button and speak the words or phrase you want to be translated.
  4. When you are done typing or speaking, the translation will appear in the lower half of the screen above the original text in your language. The Translate app will also speak the translated text.
  5. To have the app speak the translated text again, you can tap the play button in the translated text’s window.

Things To Keep In Mind About The Translate App

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

The Translate app actually has a ton of other cool features. Here are just a few examples:

  • Conversation mode: this mode is engaged when you turn your iPhone on its side (landscape mode). Doing this will allow two different speakers to have a translated conversation using the same iPhone.
  • On‑device mode: As mentioned earlier, Translate features an on-device mode. This mode allows you to download language packs directly to your iPhone so you can translate conversations on-device. On-device mode not only give you privacy, but it means you can translate conversations even if you don’t have an internet connection.
  • Favorites: This is a handy tool that lets you mark translations as favorite, so you can refer to them quickly again.
  • Attention mode: Another cool feature – attention mode allows you to basically use the iPhone as a big flashcard. It only shows the translated text in big letters so the foreign speaker can easily read what you’ve translated.

How to use the apple translate app on iphone

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.