Google has laid down yet another marker this morning of the company's ongoing mission to take over of the world with the announcement that we'll soon have a voice translation service for mobile phones. In a couple of years, once the high quality speech recognition and dictionary software is in place, we'll be able to experience almost immediate translation of what we're saying to others and what others are saying to us. Very neat indeed.

2 years is, however, a little way off if you happen to be planning a holiday to a foreign country in the next few months. So, for those with a more urgent need, here are five translation apps you can use now which should cover just about all mobile phones.

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Platform
iPhone OS

Languages
25

Price
Free


Whether or not you choose to go over to the company's travel insurance website doesn't really make any difference, but the fact is that World Nomads supply an excellent set of translator apps for the iPhone given that they're free. Each app is specific for translating between English and one of the 25 languages on offer. It's a bit of a bind to have a different one for each but then there's no need to have your trip to Japan slowed down by the weight of Hindi, Russian and Swahili, now is there?

They're far from complete, but offer 50 or so basic phrases spelled out phonetically and, best of all, include a voice to demonstrate how they should sound. So, if you're feeling really lazy, you can just go up to a local and press a button. Just no promising you'll understand the answer. On top of this, the app also offers 15 minute lessons to listen to giving you a few basics on the country and language you'll be coping with. Very good starter packs.

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Platform
iPhone OS & Android

Languages
56

Price
From Free


If you'd like to take the experience one step further, then there's a world of direct phrase translators out there. A particularly nice one is iTranslate which you can get for both iPhone and Android. It's free if you just want to go from any of the 56 Google powered languages to another and you can then buy text-to-speech packages for around 20 of the languages if you want to hear how things should be pronounced too. The voices cost £1.19 each and you can even choose from a range of different people.

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Platform
All phones in America

Languages
As many as you can think of

Price
SMS cost


Google SMS has been around for quite a while now but it's still not available to us this side of the Atlantic. Our American cousins, however, can text message Google from whatever phone they happen to be using on SMS 46645 which spells GOOGL on old school keypads.

All you need to do is write "translate hello into hungarian" and they'll send back whatever the Hungarian for hello is. Naturally, the sevice draws on Google's ever-expanding dictionary database which isn't perfect but good enough for this kind of use. The service will also exchange money values for you as well, so you can work out how much that Forints price tag works out as in dollars. The only real drawbacks here are the response speed and the cost of the roaming SMS. On the plus side, you don't need a smartphone for it to work.

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Platform

Languages
11

Price
Free


Slighty more advanced and much less clunky is the Mobile Translator service which, again, will work on any phone with a browser. It's a web application specially slimmed down and designed for mobile phones which will translate any words or phrases you enter between English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. There's no text-to-speech function and it does mean that you're at the mercy of mobile data roaming charges, but it works very well indeed.

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Platform
iPhone OS

Languages
French, German & Arabic

Price
Free


For the slightly less serious approach to language translation, iLingual has to be the one. The app was commissioned by Emirates airlines - hence the limitation to just German, French and Arabic from English - but it's a great way to break the ice in a foreign country.

The app has a small stock of foreign phrases that it'll sound out through your speaker at the touch of a button, but the real fun is that it synchs it up with an image of a pair of lips moving as if saying the words themselves. Even better is that you choose which lips will do it by taking photos of yours, your friends or any you see out and about. The idea is that you then put it up to your face as if it's your own very mouth that's saying it. Cue hilarity and instant friendships.