Are you planning a trip to Japan or interested in teaching yourself Japanese? Maybe you need to translate the label on a package or want to understand what's happening in that manga you just picked up? Whatever you need it for, a Japanese translator app can help you to better understand the world around you! But there are many apps out there, making it difficult to find the best one for you.
We put together a list of the 6 best Japanese translator apps to help you choose! Our favorite is Google Translate because it can translate photos, text, and audio and works offline. Check out the rest of our list for more Japanese translator apps, and take a look at our buying guide for information on how to find the app that will work best for you.
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In order to find the right app for you, consider your translation needs, if the app works offline, other helpful features, and whether it has in-app purchases.
When choosing a Japanese translator app, consider your needs and the situation. For example, do you need to communicate with another person with audio, or do you need to translate menus and signs?
To translate text, point your smartphone camera at a word or phrase. The app will scan the text and translate it immediately. Some apps also allow you to upload images from your camera roll to scan and translate. A clear, high-quality image will have a more accurate translation.
Photo translator apps can be helpful when you need to read a menu, food label, packaging, sign, pamphlet, or any other text. This type of translator app is beneficial if you’re unfamiliar with Japanese or do not have access to a Japanese keyboard on your smartphone.
However, some Japanese words and phrases do not translate clearly into English. Handwritten and stylized fonts may be difficult for the app to decipher, too.
Most Japanese translator apps support text translations. These apps translate words and phrases that you type in English into Japanese. They can usually translate Japanese into English as well, enabling you to communicate back and forth with Japanese speakers.
Text translations are ideal for translating text online from Japanese into English, like a website or message, or if you’re in a situation where you need to communicate with someone else.
Some apps also allow you to draw Japanese characters with your finger rather than type them out. However, you will likely need some knowledge of Japanese in order to use this feature.
Additionally, text translations are not always accurate. Some translations may be too literal, vague, or translate a word into the wrong context. Despite that, text translations are still reasonably understandable.
Apps with voice translators can be used if you need to translate something on your own, but you can also use voice translator apps to have conversations with Japanese speakers. For solo use, speak into your smartphone in English. The app will translate what you’ve said into Japanese, and you’ll be able to see and hear the translation.
For conversations, you can speak into your smartphone and play the Japanese translation for the other person. They reply by speaking into your smartphone in Japanese, which the app translates into English.
Some Japanese translator apps have features dedicated to bilingual conversations. Google Translate, for example, has a dedicated conversation feature designed to translate conversations spoken in two different languages.
For the most accurate translations, speak slowly and clearly into your smartphone. Due to the nature of speech-to-text technology, voice translators aren’t entirely accurate. However, you will still be able to get your point across.
While some apps specialize in translating Japanese, most of these apps offer translations for all kinds of language pairs. This can be helpful if English isn't your first language, you're studying multiple languages, or you're fluent in several languages.
If you're getting a translation app for travel, it can be helpful to get one with multiple languages if Japan isn't your only destination.
If you’re traveling or know that you won’t have a reliable internet connection, it’s crucial that you download a Japanese translator app that works offline. Many apps provide translations for multiple languages, so you may need to download the Japanese translations in advance so that you can use them offline.
Other translator apps have in-app purchases or premium features that are unavailable in the free version, including offline availability. Before you need to use the translator app, check to make sure that its offline availability is not locked behind in-app purchases.
Not only do translator apps help you to translate words and phrases in Japanese, but some also come with helpful features to assist you while you’re traveling or studying.
For example, many Japanese translator apps come with phrasebooks and dictionaries. These tools can help you practice your pronunciation and access accurate translations of phrases and words. Some apps may also keep track of your recent translations, making it easy to reuse a phrase or remember a word.
A few Japanese translator apps may prompt you to make in-app purchases. An in-app purchase requires you to pay to use additional features.
Some features that may be locked behind in-app purchases include offline availability, unlimited translations, and access to phrasebooks and dictionaries. If you don’t want to make an in-app purchase, be sure to read the app’s description carefully to make sure it has the features you need for free.
We may be stating the obvious here, but be aware that some apps are only available on certain devices. Some apps may only work on or be better on Android devices, while others are exclusively on iPhone. Read the reviews on the respective stores to make sure your app will work at its highest potential on your device.
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Best Japanese Translator App for Travelers
Best for Communicating With Japanese Speakers
Best for Accessibility and Customized Audio
Best for Those Currently Studying Japanese
Best App for Translating Images and Entire Websites
Best Japanese Translator App for Offline Use
Google Translate is a versatile app that can translate Japanese from photos, text, and audio. It can even translate Japanese offline! The app also comes with handwriting translation, which is useful if you have prior knowledge of Japanese. It features a phrasebook where you can save previous translations, too.
Some reviewers have issues with a recent user interface update, saying the app is now difficult to navigate. Despite that, reviewers praise its accurate translations and educational value. They add that Google Translate makes it easy to communicate with native speakers and translate unfamiliar words, making it perfect for traveling.
Microsoft Translator features photo, text, and audio translation that you can use offline! It also supports in-person bilingual conversations with native speakers, and it comes with a phrasebook, a pronunciation guide, and the ability to share translations across different apps. You can also save translations to refer back to later.
Some reviewers say that the translations are not always accurate, while others report that the image and audio translation functions do not work well. But, many reviewers appreciate Microsoft Translator for helping them communicate with colleagues, friends, and family members who speak different languages. Reviewers also praised the app for being easy to use.
SayHi Translate is a highly customizable app. You can choose the gender and speed of the voice, share translations through text or social media, and access a keyboard by pressing down the microphone button. The app also supports multiple languages and some of their respective dialects.
Some reviewers say that this app does not translate voices well, while others note that the translations are not always accurate. However, the majority of reviewers praise SayHi Translate for its quick translations and accessible interface. They add that this app helps them communicate with native speakers easily.
Yandex.Translate is a multi-faceted translator app with lots to offer. It has photo, text, and voice translations, and it's available offline. If you're interested in developing your Japanese language skills, the app also features flashcards and a dictionary for studying. Additionally, it saves your translation history for reference.
One reviewer notes that it's unable to translate English into romaji, which is the romanization of Japanese. However, other reviewers appreciate the accurate translations, and many say that this is the best translator app they have used. They add that the other features, like the dictionary, make it a helpful learning resource.
Naver Papago translates photos, text, voice, and handwriting, and it is also available offline. You can have in-person bilingual conversations using the app's Conversation Translation feature, or you can brush up on your language skills using the dictionary. Additionally, the app can translate entire websites; all you need to do is copy and paste the site's URL into the app.
A few reviewers say that the translations are sometimes inaccurate. But, the majority of reviewers are impressed by the app's photo translator, and they also note that it translates well offline. They report that this app helped them practice a new language.
If you're looking for a Japanese translator app that works offline, consider Japanese Translator Offline. As its name suggests, the app works offline and comes with several features. You can easily type for text translations, and the voiceover reads translations back to you. You can also save translations and refer back to them later.
Reviewers note that this app does not translate English into Japanese romaji, making translations difficult for those without prior knowledge. However, most reviewers are impressed with the accuracy of the translations. They say that this app helped them communicate with native Japanese speakers and learn Japanese.
Whether you're planning an international trip or studying a new language, there is an app out there for you! Check out more of our favorites by reading the articles below.
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