We’ve said it over and over again, communication is key to an on time, on budget and safe construction job site. One of the things that makes that difficult is the fact that our industry employs one of the largest percentages of foreign born workers, which can make proper communication very difficult for some. According to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health, 25% of construction workers were foreign born in 2008.
In years past, our options were to learn a second language, carry around a book of translations or speak English even louder and point a lot (which, surprisingly, never worked). Now, there are several great smart phone applications that can automatically translate speech and text. Here is our list of the best translator apps to use for better communication on the job site:
It should be no surprise at this point, Google has everything and they’re usually one of the best; Translate is no different. With the app, you have the ability to not only translate speech in over 40 different languages, you can also use your camera to translate text in 24 different languages, which is actually pretty incredible, just point your camera at a sign and it will change the letters right to your language of choice right on the screen. Although you do need an internet connection for it to translate, the app does allow you to download complete language dictionaries to use offline. So, if you know that you’ll only need Spanish on a remote jobsite, just download the Spanish dictionary and you’re good to go. Once translated, the word or phrase can easily be shared via text message, email, or any other app installed on your phone.
Download for Android ($FREE) | Google Play
Download for Apple ($FREE) | iTunes
iTranslate is a very straightforward and easy to use translator app, with many of the same features as Google Translate. On top of being able to translate over 90 different languages, iTranslate allows you to adjust the speed in which it speaks the translation back to you. The free version does come with ads and does not allow voice commands, but the premium app is only $5. For those of you who are into the wearables on the construction site, iTranslate also has an Apple Watch app. The video below, by iCopilot is a how to guide for iTranslator
Fearing being left out of the translator arms race, Microsoft recently created their translator app, appropriately titles Microsoft Translator. While Microsoft’s version is a formidable opponent for the other two apps, it doesn’t really set itself apart from the others. It does currently have a version available for download for Android smartwatches, but Google Translate will soon be available for the watch, as well. It’s included in this list because it’s still a good app for translating and some users may favor a Microsoft product. Some find it’s translations a bit more natural than the more literal Google Translate, as well.
Download for Windows ($FREE) | Microsoft Store
Download for Apple ($FREE) | iTunes Store
Download for Android and Android Wear ($FREE) | Google Play
While these apps are powerful and amazing translators, it’s important to remember that these are not always 100% accurate, so if you get a strange look from the person you’re translating to, you may need to consult a human translator.
Do you know of any other great translation apps? Tell us in the comments!