I have been using Google Translate a lot on this trip. Few people here in Rio de Janeiro speak English.
It is an incredible app that also works without cell service. You just download whatever language(s) you need to your phone.
There’s a conversation feature that allows you to go back and forth with someone in real time (almost).
There’s a camera feature that is invaluable for translating restaurant menus.
And there are a number of smaller features that I have also found really useful.
For example, if you rotate your phone into landscape mode, it will show you your translation in big text like a flash card.
It looks like this (trust me it is useful):
I also just learned that, since November 2016, the Translate app has been using a neural machine translation system developed by Google.
It is capable of understanding and translating complete sentences, and that has reduced translation errors by about 60% compared to the previous system.
Rather than translate word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase, Google’s NMT network encodes the “semantics of sentences.”
To learn more about GNMT, click here.