World Nomad language apps

The best free translator app: World Nomad

Translator app reviews
World Nomads
24/7 tutor (free)
Cool Gorilla (99¢)
Word Roll (99¢)
Odyssey ($9.99)
Lonely Planet ($9.99)

Cost: Free/$1.99 Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd

Platforms: iPhone

Languages: 25 — Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Greek, Portuguese, Swedish, Croatian, Nepali, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Arabic, Khmer (Cambodian), Turkish, Russian, Malay, Lao, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Hindi, Swahili, and Australian (which can be more useful than you'd think, as it's loaded with a prodigious amount of otherwise incomprehensible Aussie slang).

Get more for $2
World Nomads has introduced more robust phrasebook apps for $1.99 each that include more than twice as many phrases and expanded sections:
Usability: The World Nomads apps present lists, divided into categories, of useful basic travel phrases. Tap on a phrase, and you hear an audio clip of a native-speaker pronouncing it—a high-end feature we’re frankly surprised to find in a free app.

In most languages, the rudimentary standards a tourist needs are all here: greetings, key words (yes, no, please, thank you, excuse me), numbers up to ten, and a few terms useful in transportation (where is the … ticket, train, bus, taxi); lodging ("too expensive"); and safety (doctor, hospital, police; some include "Stop thief!" "Don't shoot!" and everybody's favorite "Those drugs aren't mine!").

There's also a "Language Lesson" feature in which all the phrases a strung together in a short audio skit, complete with background sound effects, of a "typical tourist situation."

Frustrations: Dining phrases are missing—a big drawback.

There are also inconsistencies. The Thai app tells you how to say "yes," but not "no." (For the record, it's mai.)

Sometimes, an app suffers the opposite problem of presenting the forest rather than simply the one tree you need. For example, the Arabic module presents five ways to greet people, but none of them is the handy, pan-Arabic "salaam aleikum," which is all you need to know.

Download: Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd


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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in April 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.