Understanding German is a cinch if you have the right tools at your disposal.
In this post, I’ve rounded up five of the best German translation apps for Android to crush the language barrier and expand your communication skills.
Whether you’re a German newbie or just looking for a translation app to supplement your knowledge, you’ll find some great options below.
- The Veteran: Google Translate
- The Wanderer: Microsoft Translate
- The Explainer: Linguee
- The Specialist: BK Translate’s English German Translator
- The Cadillac: TripLingo
The Veteran: Google Translate
Yep, Google was one of the first on the scene with Google Translate back in the day, and their algorithm has gotten better and better with time. Supporting translations between over 100 languages, including English-to-German and German-to-English, the Google translation app for Android is still a favorite with many users.
The features of this app include:
- An integrated tap-to-translate feature, which allows you to translate text from other apps such as Gmail.
- Offline use, which certainly comes in handy if you don’t have access to the internet while traveling in a German-speaking region.
- Instant camera translation: point, click, understand!
- A two-way conversation mode to help you make new friends or avoid misunderstandings. The app will listen to spoken German and provide a translation.
- A phrasebook to help you keep track of the words you need the most. You can mark specific words to add to your personal phrasebook.
- A handwriting feature, which allows you to scrawl out the words on your Android phone instead of typing them. This is a good way to quickly write words with accents or non-English characters.
Although this app remains popular, some users have complained that it has glitches and bugs, for example, the microphone stops working mid-sentence, etc. If you experience the same, you can send a feedback report from the main navigation menu.
The ever magical uninstall/re-install might also do the trick.
The Wanderer: Microsoft Translate
Microsoft Translate is another one of the biggies, and many users give this app a five-star rating. What makes this app unique is that it’s especially mobile and easy to use anywhere.
It offers both online and offline use (this feature has been mentioned to be “very reliable” by users). You can even use this app directly on an Android (or iOS) smartwatch. Einfach genial! (Simply ingenious!)
This app has many other great features, including:
- Multiple-person translation, to chat with locals at the pub, club or elsewhere.
- The option to look up alternative translations to help you best express what you’re trying to say.
- The ability to hear a translated phrase said aloud, a great feature to help you expand your vocabulary and listening skills.
- Voice and camera translation as well as a built-in phrasebook with pronunciation guides.
The Explainer: Linguee
Anyone who regularly does translations between English and German or other languages likely knows about Linguee. Linguee’s German translation app for Android is also very popular–and for good reason.
This app shows language in context. When you search for a word, you don’t get just a translation. You can also get a list of example sentences from across the web where the word appears, so you can be sure you’re choosing the right word and using it correctly.
Linguee is also well known for its reliability. The dictionary was created by over 400 lexicographers, which means the quality of the translations have been checked by those in the know. It also features:
- A quick search, which means the word you’re searching for will pop up once you’ve entered a few letters.
- An offline mode for the dictionary.
- A pronunciation guide where each word is spoken by native speakers.
Although this app generally receives a five-star rating and heaps of praise, some users have mentioned that it doesn’t have microphone use and that the interface is small. If you have no prior knowledge of German, it may also be better to opt for an app which allows you to translate speech and has camera recognition.
But for German learners and Möchtegern-Deutsche-Experten (wannabe German experts), this app is definitely a top choice.
The Specialist: BK Translate’s English German Translator
Another highly rated German translation app for Android is the English German Translator from BK Translate. This very user-friendly app allows you to translate voice, handwriting, words and full sentences.
It’s focused exclusively on German-to-English and English-to-German translation, so if you want to avoid bells and whistles, this is your best bet.
The app can also be used as dictionary. However, be careful here. Some users have mentioned that this app doesn’t always include the gender of nouns, which is crucial for learning German.
The Cadillac: TripLingo
If you travel a lot and want to learn as you go—and this means culture too, not just language—then you may want to consider TripLingo. This German translation app for Android offers both a basic free version and a premium subscription service where you’ll get full access to all the features.
Besides the typical translation features, TripLingo offers a number of unique perks, such as access to a live translator at $3 per minute. There are also language lessons and even a culture crash course to teach you important etiquette so you’ll avoid any embarrassing faux pas and understand the local customs.
Other features include:
- Flashcards to test your knowledge.
- A built-in currency converter and tip calculator to use on-the-go.
- A Wi-Fi dialer that lets you call any U.S. phone number.
And they offer a 100% money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the app.
Many users rave about the impressive features of this app. However, these features do come at a price ($20 per month for a premium subscription), so it’s worth asking yourself whether you really need them or if you’d do just fine with the free version rather than the premium subscription.
If you travel a lot on business and can get your company to foot the bill for the premium subscription, why not go Cadillac and learn key phrases and expand your cultural understanding between lunch dates and board meetings?
These are great apps for your translation needs, and some of them even do much more than just translate. Depending on what you want, there’s something for everyone!
It’s all about expanding your ability to communicate and learning more along the way.
You can even look beyond the traditional translation apps listed in this post and branch out to apps that provide a more specific angle to translation.
For example, the language immersion program FluentU has a contextual dictionary that can show you what words mean when they’re used in specific scenarios. You can also learn the meanings of words in further context through authentic German videos. You can search for a word to see how to use it in different videos.
Another option is to use apps and websites like Proz Forum or HiNative (available as an Android and iOS app!) to get translations to specific questions you have from an actual German speaker.
Now go on! Make use of these German translation apps for Android and beyond. Happy travels and language learning!
Rebeccah Dean is a writer and educator who has lived in Berlin since 1999. You can read more about her adventures on her blog Rebeccah Travels.