Meet The Travel App That Helps You Talk Like A Local
By Darren Dahl
Nearly fifty years ago, the television show Star Trek introduced the concept of a “universal translator,” a device able to decipher new languages almost immediately. Though very much a work of science fiction, the universal translator is edging closer to reality with TripLingo, a cutting-edge smartphone app that helps travelers overcome language and culture barriers with unprecedented ease.
Available for download through the iTunes store, TripLingo helps travelers bone up on everything they need to know when their plane touches down without having to invest in an expensive and cumbersome guidebooks. The app currently supports 12 nations and their languages: France, Germany, Israel, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, China, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and Thailand. Even better, users can easily toggle between languages at any time.
Travel Goes Sci-Fi
The app’s most mind-blowing feature is a real-time translator. Just speak into your phone and it will speak right back to you – or to whomever you’re trying to communicate with.
You can also use the app’s Slangslider feature to select how formal or informal you’d like your responses to be. You can even change the speed at which your translator speaks — an especially valuable function for business travelers.
When you have some downtime and want to get in some practice of your own, TripLingo offers a fun flashcard tool, allowing you to practice some 10,000 common phrases, including plenty of business-specific ones.
If you want to get specific, the app’s Word Bank gives you access to an assortment of words and phrases based on categories like “Accommodation,” “Shopping,” and even “Flirting.”
But TripLingo isn’t just limited to language. It has impressive Travel Situations and Culture features, providing insightful background information on everything from doing business in your destination country to tips on dining etiquette and safety.
Each phrase you look up or translate also includes a note on how it relates to the local culture, an especially valuable feature for business travelers looking to avoid deal-killing faux pas.
Upgrade to Business Class
You get quite a bit for free with the standard app. But if you really want to dig into the language and culture of your destination, you’ll need to pay. One language costs $9.99, or you can get three for $19.99. If you want all 12, it’s $49.99. If you’re really in a pinch, you can also use the app’s “Talk Live” function where you can purchase time with a live translator right on your phone.
TripLingo also offers a “Business Class“ version of its app, aimed at large organizations or travel agencies that want to add custom branding to the app (the company’s CEO Jesse Maddox, says the two versions will soon be merged). The enterprise version offers additional business phrases in each language and a direct dial to a company’s security provider and travel agent.
The universal translator is still a long way off, but TripLingo is a giant step forward in erasing the language barriers that plague travelers of all stripes. The next time you travel, a translator is only as far away as your pocket.