Languages for iPhone review

There is already a plethora of language translation dictionaries in the App Store, so what makes the new Languages for iPhone app by Tapity and Sonico Mobile so special? It's fast, reliable, stored directly onto your iPhone, and straight-up gorgeous. Languages also includes a lot of user interface elements and gestures that makes using Languages very intuitive and easy to use.

Having information stored locally on your iPhone is very important for apps like this. You never know when you'll need to look up a translations, so the last thing you want is to have to rely on your carrier's network connection to give you access to your dictionary. That's why Jeremy Olson, the Founder of Tapity, made offline storage a priority.

While Languages is going to be a lifesaver for students and travelers, I really think the fact that it works offline makes it valuable to almost anyone, regardless of whether or not they actively need translation. 99 cents buys you the peace of mind that you'll never get stuck without reliable translation again.

Languages includes 12 different translation dictionaries consisting of 8 different languages. Here's a list of the included dictionaries that will appear on a nicely designed bookshelf.

  • Spanish -- English
  • German -- English
  • French -- English
  • Italian -- English
  • Dutch -- English
  • English -- Portuguese
  • Swedish -- English
  • French -- Italian
  • French -- Spanish
  • Dutch -- French
  • Dutch -- Italian
  • Spanish -- Dutch

When you first download Languages, only the Spanish/English and German/English dictionaries will be installed as a way to limit the size of the app. You can download any of the other dictionaries at your leisure at no additional cost.

In dictionary mode, the words will be listed in alphabetical order. To jump to a section of the dictionary, tap and hold on the alphabet on the right. The letters will magnify around your finger and highlight the letter you're actually on. The visuals for this is really cool and makes it look like the alphabet wraps around your finger. When you settle on a letter, a second column will appear that alphabetizes a list of the first two letters of words included with your chosen letter. This streamlines your search and minimizes scrolling.

In the toolbar at the top of the dictionary, you'll find a search bar, a button that takes you back to your bookshelf, and a flag button that switches between primary languages. And because the developers are fans of gestures, even ones that are "just for fun", you can also pinch to close your dictionary and watch it animate back onto the shelf.

Dictionary mode is a great and all, but even with the enhanced alphabet scrolling, it still isn't ideal for looking up words in rapid succession. That's where Languages search mode comes in, and a quick swipe to the right gets you there. The curser will automatically jump to the search bar and a keyboard slides up. This is great for iPhone 5 users with small hands because it eliminates the needs to reach to the top of the screen to tap the search bar, especially when one-handed.

As you type the word, you'll get instant results. Words that are from your primary language will appear on the left and point to its translation on the right, and matches from the secondary language will appear on the right and point to its translation on the left. To clear the word and star over, a quick swipe to the right will delete the search field and bring the keyboard back up.

The good

  • Dictionaries are offline
  • Includes 12 languages
  • Gorgeous and intuitive interface
  • Time-saving gestures
  • Tap a word to copy it or jump to that word's dictionary entry
  • Fast
  • Great price

The bad

  • Limited phrases
  • Lacks verb conjugations (coming soon)
  • No pronunciation (coming soon)

The bottom line

Languages is a gorgeous translation dictionary that will be a great companion for anyone who is learning another language or even those who are fluent in multiple languages but need to look up vocabulary from time to time. From the moment you start using Languages, you know that a lot of work, heart, and soul was poured into it and this is what sets it apart from similar apps. And at just $0.99 for 12 dictionaries, Languages is quite a steal.

$0.99 - Download Now

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Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Reader comments

Languages for iPhone review

1 Comment

Wow. Just downloaded "Languages" and it is very impressive. Beautiful, fast, simple, intuitive. (We've used some free translation apps and they were almost unusably bad.) Languages' offline lookup is the key to its responsiveness.