Microsoft owns a bevy of interesting apps and it is continuously making them available across smartphone operating systems rather than restricting them to the Windows Phone platform. For example, the entire portfolio of Office apps was released for Android last month, and was released for iOS in 2014. Their latest app is a language translation app called Microsoft Translator. It was released yesterday and is available for Android smartphones, Android Wear based smartwatches, tablets and for Apple Watches as well. The app fronts up to the very popular Google Translate app.

Interface: Simplicity from the outset

Translator has a funky user interface with a colourful background. Yet, it works pretty smoothly and is easy to use. Google Translate’s plain white interface looks a bit bland but then it is the epitome of simplicity.

Both the apps are free to download and use, and easy to configure—you don’t need a login or password to open them. Translator is small app and stays that way throughout. It takes up just 15MB of space on the phone. In comparison, Translate takes up 30MB space on the phone, and if you download any of the languages for offline use it will take up another 200 MB space on the phone.

The ability to use it offline is a very useful feature, when there is no 3G or Wi-Fi connectivity. In Indian languages, the offline mode is available only with Hindi as of now. The Translator has no such feature and it works online only, at the moment.

Basics work, but extras missing

The two applications are pretty much similar in the working. You have to feed in the text manually and the applications will translate it in a few seconds to the language the user selects from the list. Microsoft Translator supports fewer international as well as Indian languages, but when it comes to accuracy Google Translate is much more consistent. While Translator was a little vague it handled everyday conversation well. Google app handled most tasks better.

Google Translate offers a unique feature which you won’t get in Microsoft app—the ability to translate any printed or written word using the phone’s camera. It is accurate and reads text from any surface, even billboards and magazines. It can come in handy for travelers trying to identify signages in another country. In case you wish to translate only a certain part of the text, it also allows you to do that by tapping on the text and the camera will translate only the highlighted text.

The question of convenience

Google Translate supports several India languages other than Hindi and Urdu. Some of the popular ones are Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu. The Translator includes only Hindi and Urdu. However, its international inventory is at par with Translate. It includes all major languages like English, Chinese, Dutch, Arabic, German, Italian, French, Russian, Japanese, Persian, Spanish and the also the lesser known ones like Welsh, Yucatec Maya, Latvian, Hmong Daw and Haitian Creole.

A lot of users prefer speaking out the words or phrases they want translated, instead of typing in the whole thing. These apps detect the sound and translate what is being said.

Microsoft’s app offers this feature too, but it doesn’t say it aloud like the Google app, instead the translation shows in the form of text on the screen.

Also, in the audio version Translator only translates from English to Hindi or English to Urdu but does not allow you to translate from Hindi to English or Urdu to English. This is a big limitation. Whereas, Google Translate offers two-way translation for all the Indian languages in the list.

Translator keeps a record of every translation which is available on the apps’s history page just like Translate. User can go back to the previous translations anytime. What Microsoft’s app doesn’t have is the ability to translate every text message sent to you. It shows all text messages on the apps’ SMS translation window automatically. This just shows the close integration between Google apps. The camera and voice translation are not available for all Indian languages. The only India language that supports it is Hindi.

Microsoft Translator is an interesting addition to the list of language apps, but the Google’s Translate app still has more features and Microsoft Translator will have to work harder at beating the competition.

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