Many iOS app reviews rely on a tried and tested methodology where it’s installed, reviewed from the comfort of a desk, write up a general impression of how it would work in the real world, put up a score and bingo your done. Not here at EssentialMac.

Worldictonary was sent in for review and I didn’t even have the chance to run the app before before setting off for Oktoberfest. Now that’s how you really test an application like this. iPhone translation software in a foreign land with no instructions. This could be interesting.

What is Worldictonary?

Billing itself as a pocket translator the premise is simple. Go somewhere foreign, point the camera at what you want to translate and it’ll pop up on the screen. In its most “basic mode” you will get a magnifying glass, a pointer and that’s its fairly intuitive stuff. There’s obviously more behind the scenes to Worldictionary but let’s start off with the feature that hit’s your screen when you first run.

Realtime translation

Point your iPhone’s camera at any word and Worldictionary will instantly translate that word with an ability to further define based on your search engine preferences. In the middle of that skuemorphic display a small bullet points you into the right direction, blinking when it’s recognized a word.

Worldictionary stopsign 293x440 Worldictionary iPhone App Review   Instant Translation And Search

Ok so technically this isn’t the proper name for this mode but it’s where you end up at first run. It’s a fairly busy interface when you first start up and run with an “intereting color scheme of brown that’s not been encountered before. Basically this is all point and shoot stuff, aim that at a word and it’ll go off to the internet and pull down the translation. You will need data for this to work so make sure you check with your provider about roaming charges and such. Data transfer was rapid on both 3g and the lesser speed Edge connections.

It’s slightly confusing at first as once the dot recognizes a word it’ll keep translating till you move to the next word. For translating in places you have a general grasp of the lingo it will be ok but, if like me, you had no clue and needed to do something quick, you do end up wishing it would let you pause to catch up on the history

So out in the real world how did it perform? Well I was kinda hoping to pick works out one at a time in a point and translate fashion, in effect point, translate, have time to read and then do the same again.

At times I wanted to translate a sentence without “scan and translate mode” as the history on the right is incredibly handy if you want to catch something on the fly. As worldictionary goes with a continual recognition method that history gets overwritten with easy by the same word.

It’s a shame because being able to do a quick sentence a can would of been deal. Still it did help at restaurants and the airport for translation purposes. Speed and accuracy were superb even if the app feels over keen on its recognition.

Worldictionary isn’t limited to German to English it works with a whole host of languages. Basically if it’s supported in Google or Bing the translation engine will work. Settings wise there really isn’t much to be seen aside from the translation engine selection there is an in app purchase engine which, at the time of writing, consists of Transtar Chinese to English or Japanese.

Worldictionary randomsign 293x440 Worldictionary iPhone App Review   Instant Translation And Search
Not a “normal” word.
worldictionary scan 293x440 Worldictionary iPhone App Review   Instant Translation And Search
Other handy features include being able to bookmark a word, share this work via Email or SMS and pressing the speaker to listen how that word is pronounced. A slightly hidden feature allows you to take a picture from the magnifier to translate using the Scan and translate option. All you have to do is tap on the screen and whatever is in your viewfinder is saved to the camera album ready for…

Worldictionary Scan And Translate

This is where you find the app really comes into its own when working with taken pictures from either the camera or the iPhone album. With an image open you can tap on any word and get a translation, the very feature I was hoping for in the magnifying mode but it is in the app just with another step to get to it.

When in “scan and translate mode” this is how it works…

20121107 002036 Worldictionary iPhone App Review   Instant Translation And SearchWith an image opened you can either tap on a single word to get a translation or head into the very useful sentence / paragraph mode…. 
20121107 002048 Worldictionary iPhone App Review   Instant Translation And SearchClick the first word and then the last word of the area you want to translate and worldictionary intelligently works out the text to translate. Press the translate and you see recognized and editable text in the bottom pane. Clicking translate…
20121107 002054 Worldictionary iPhone App Review   Instant Translation And SearchIt’ll translate the text, once again showing you the original at the top and a translation at the bottom. Both speakers will let you listen, in the native countries dialect, to the texts, a nice touch.

Real World Testing.

Like I said earlier it’s all too easy to get an app, run it from the controlled conditions of a desk and do a general write up on the results. The real world means dealing with differing lighting, slightly blurred pictures and that dreaded moment where at the train station and trying to find where the heck the airport is..

With Oktoberfest being in full swing there was no shortage of advisory signs on the trains. So this might not be a typical life in the day of using German public transport but after all apps like this are here to help with situations like this. Again using the magnifier mode I could get the general idea of each word but scan and translate came into its own.

Worldictionary sign scan 586x440 Worldictionary iPhone App Review   Instant Translation And Search

Original:An den Samsta en und Sonn-u. Feierta en, während des Oktoberfestes, beginnt am Morgen der 10 Min-Abstand bereits ab ca. 7.00 Uhr! Dadurch kommt es bei den Linien U1 und U6 zu Abweichungen gegenüber den im Aushangfahrplan angegebenen.
 Translation:The Samsta u s and Sundays. Feierta s, during the Oktoberfest begins on the morning of the 10-minute distance from ca7.00 clock! This results in the U1 and U6 to deviations from the schedule specified in the notice board

Ok so it’s not perfect but this is a real world test and being fair, it’s not done too bad.  The general message is there and if I had gotten closer to the text I’d be confident of an improved result.

Translating a Restaurant Guide

So imagine the situation where being out and about you catch something and think “right, ill snap that now and translate later” but you aren’t of sound mind or body (it’s Oktoberfest after all) to flatten out the pages. This picture was taken in a bar late at night with the slightest of effort to make sure that the source was half decent. Notice the pages are still curled, left like this on purpose.

Worldictionary book1 Worldictionary iPhone App Review   Instant Translation And Search
Worldictonary Translated : äs a great, exciting restaurant and what a terrific concept! Since, s generous ambience offers homey alcoves, verscfile. ferent levels and an amazing lighting effect.The selection of food is around, fürigreich, ranging from succulent steaks and seafood barbecue on to aJ typical Cajun Gerichten.Was we also tried, it tasted out signatory and thePortions were also plentiful! Schnelleq a friendly server, service completes the picture, even the cocktails are very noteworthy.Thursdays from 20 clock, and for Sunday brunch from 10 clock-here’s are also great live events jaa.

So that’s not bad at all. Given how curled the pages are and it’s trying to work out the sentence construct without a full set of words it more than gives an idea about the article.

Translating a random newspaper piece.

Again the quality of the picture isn’t too bad at all but it’s again another font which is important to take into consideration. Worldictionary is taking everything I’m throwing at it with expected results. Not 100% perfect if you have a curled page but it’s not that bad I couldn’t work out the main purpose of the text.

 Worldictionary bookscanIMG 1595 330x440 Worldictionary iPhone App Review   Instant Translation And Search
Recognised Text : Im oberen Bereich des Zürichsees liegen die be iden Inseln Ufnau und Lützefall. Ufnau, die grössere, ist wegen ihrer idyllischen Lage und ihres naturnahen Zustandes ein beliebter Ausüugsort. Eigentümer und Verwalter ist das Kloster Einsiedeln-und dies schon seit dem Jahr 965. Und auch wenn das Baden auf der Insel untersagt ist, gibt es auf dem 112 645 Quadratmeter grossen Eiland doch so einiges zu sehen: Bei einem Rundgang trifft man auf die Pfarrkirche St. Peter und Paul mit archäologischen Funden eines gallorömischen Tempers aus dem 2./3. Jahrhundert sowie auf die Kapelle St. Martin. Von Mitte März bis Mitte Oktober sorgt ausserdem der Inselwirt im Selbstbedienungsrestaurant für das leibliche Wohl der Besucher. Und seit einigen Jahren gibt es auf der Insel Ufnau auch einen behindectengerechten Weg.

Translated text: In the upper area of Lake Zurich are to be identical islands Ufnau and Lützefall.Ufnau which is larger, because of its idyllic location and its natural state is a popular Ausüugsort. Owned and managed by the monastery of Einsiedeln and have done so for the in 965And even if bathing is forbidden on the island, there is on the 112,645 square meter island yet so much to see: As you walk you are at the parish church of St.Peter and Paul third with a Gallo-Roman archaeological finds from the 2nd Tempers / Century and the St. Martin Chapel.From mid-March to mid-October, the island also host provides the self-service restaurant for the culinary needs of visitors.And for some years there are on the island Ufnau also behindectengerechten way.


For me it’s an app of two halves both handy in their own right but full on translate for me was handier in this occasion. The translation results speak for themselves, Worldictonary copes with ease different font styles and sizing, translation happens in rapid moments but does require a data connection.

The magnification glass is best used to basic translation like if you end up at a train station wondering how to get to the airport or something similar… Anything more than a few words, scan and translate really comes mode shines and with practice makes sentence or paragraph translations a breeze. This keeps bringing me back to the magnifier where I find myself hearing for a tap and translate feature when using the magnifier as the 4 word history was great for when I needed an at a glance translation.

Scan and translate works more than capably with low light and page curls as long as its not too extreme. Believe me I’ve used other COR styled apps that fall foul of a less than perfect scan. As long as the picture is straight enough and in focus, it’ll deal just fine with it.

With a well thought out feature set, descriptions for translated words coupled with the ability to speak words grab this app to make travelling or holidays that little less stressful.

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