[Saturday Reads | IYL Finds] Life-Saving Translator Photo App for non-English Picturebooks

Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

Translate Photo App

I have been sharing quite a number of non-English titles fairly recently – see my review of Norwegian picturebook titles here, a French picturebook (La Père Noël dans tous ses états) and Spanish picturebooks (Niños Pequeños by Pere Ginard and El Pequeño Rey: Maestro Repostero by Javier Saez Castan). I discovered these books through my stay at the International Youth Library (IYL) in Munich as a research fellow, and shared even a few more books in the IYL’s blog here.

Given my fascination with these picturebooks, I was also very grateful to discover the Translate Photo App which made my life as a research fellow significantly easier as I try to access the world of meanings in these non-English picturebooks.

This is the way the app works (the red one on the right – which can be found in the App Store for iPhone users):

(1) I take a photo of the page, (2) it recognizes and transcribes the text for me, and (3) translates it in English.

But, hold your horses. There are still lots of glitches that I have discovered while using the app; it is hardly perfect. The free app only allows you to transcribe/translate up to ten images. And so, I thought it would be good investment to purchase the app for 6.98 USD – I find this to be very cheap given all the books I can now access and translate. Here is a snapshot of how it works:

What makes the app very convenient for me is that both recognized and translated text can be immediately sent as an iMessage to your iPhone, or you can send it as an email to yourself if you wish. If your iMessage is linked to your macbook, then you immediately get the transcription in your computer.

I personally still find the translation wonky, and if there are typographic design/layout in the picturebook, the app is unable to recognize the text and jumbles them all up. Regardless of all these difficulties, I still find it immensely valuable that I do not have to type the text any longer (well, most of the time). Add the fact that it can recognize Chinese/Korean/Arabic text. I can, then, send the transcription to myself as an iMessage which I can then double check through Google translate. While I am aware of Google Translate’s gross inaccuracies, I shall take what I can get, truth be told.

Do you know of similar apps? Do recommend any that you may know.

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