Tag Archives: app store

Use Google Translate with Your Smartphone Camera

 By Tracey Dowdy

 Last summer, when my daughter completed her study abroad program, I had the opportunity to travel with her throughout Spain and France. She had been studying Spanish and living with native Spanish speakers, so our adventures in Barcelona were language-barrier free. However, my French is very basic and très rouillé – very rusty.

I opened every conversation in Bordeaux and Paris with, “Excusez moi, je parle Français comme un enfant,” which translates as, “Excuse me, I speak French like a child.” This generally prompted a laugh, and we’d switch to English. However, my conversation opener wasn’t much help if I came across unfamiliar words in the train station or on a menu, two places you don’t necessarily want to go with a roll of the dice.

Thank God for Google Translate. I’ve long used it for translation in my work, but this trip showcased its diversity and ability to translate everything from handwritten notes to street signs.

A recent update to the Google Translate camera tool has added 60 additional languages for a total of 88 languages in its database. One of the best features of this update is the app’s ability to detect what language is being used. This is particularly helpful if you’re translating similar yet distinctly different languages like Spanish and Portuguese.

Here’s how to use Translate text using your phone’s camera:

  • Download the app on iTunes or the Google Play Store.
  • Tap your Camera icon, and once you’ve noted the features available, tap Continue.
  • You’ll need to give Google Translate permission to access your camera. If you have privacy concerns, you can always go in and manually change your settings when you’re not using the app.
  • Once you’ve given permission, your in-app camera will open.
  • Change the languages at the top to Detecting Language and the language you want to be your default/preferred language.
  • Point your camera at the text you want to translate.
  • If you want a still frame of the text, Tap Pause translation.
  • When you’re ready, select Continue Translation and move to the next set of text to be translated.

You can also pull up a picture from your phone’s camera roll to be translated.

  • Open the Google Translate app
  • Select the Camera icon.
  • Tap Import in the bottom right corner.
  • Select the photo.
  • Use your finger to highlight the text to be translated.
  • Alternatively, you can tap the Scan icon. This allows you to snap a picture translate with a swipe of your finger. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

7 Steps Towards Keeping Those New Year Resolutions

“Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits.” – Anonymous

That insightful quote from an unknown source aptly sums up most people’s approach to New Year resolutions: put a list together of mostly unattainable goals, let our usual routines quickly get in the way, and then gradually let those resolutions fade to a distant memory – until we get to dust them off again 12 months later!

According to The Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 8 percent of people are successful in achieving their New Near resolutions, and fully one quarter of people who make resolutions don’t get past the first week. But why are we so bad at achieving our goals? What is it about New Year resolutions that makes them so hard to keep?

The simple explanation is that most people’s resolutions conflict with their daily routines. This makes perfect sense – if we want to change something about ourselves, we have to change our regular habits and most people are just not ready to make the required sacrifice. But it’s more than that. Most resolutions just aren’t any fun. The top resolutions each year are invariably ‘lose weight,’ ‘get organized,’ and ‘spend less,’ none of which will get the average person jumping up and down with excitement.

So what can we do to make those New Year resolutions more compelling and attainable? While most of it comes down to willpower and the desire to change, there are ways we can approach our new goals that will give us a better chance of success. Here are a few suggestions:

Make your resolution something attainable

If you’re working 40 hours a week, raising three young children and struggling to get to the gym twice a week, then setting a goal of learning a new language might be a tad unrealistic. Sets goals that you have at least an outside chance of achieving. In the same way that you shouldn’t set yourself up for failure at work or in your relationships, your shouldn’t stack the odds against you when you make your New Year resolutions.

Be specific

The more specific the goal, the more chance you have of achieving it. Instead of a New Year resolution of ‘lose weight,’ try something like ‘lose 5 pounds by January 31.’ If your goal is to be more organized, think about what you really mean by that and break it down into more manageable goals like ‘clean out the garage,’ ‘sort out my parents’ finances,’ or ‘work out a ride-sharing plan for the kids’ soccer practices.’ Once general resolutions are broken down into specific tasks, they seem much less daunting and often require much less in the way of a lifestyle change to get done.

Write down a plan

In a study of Harvard’s MBA program, students were asked about their plans after graduating. Eight-four percent had no specific goals; 13 percent had goals but they weren’t written down; and just 3 percent had clear, written goals. Ten years later, those graduates were interviewed again. The 3 percent with clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent.

A written plan makes a resolution real and gets you to think about the steps required to achieve your goal. If your New Year resolution is to ‘get fit and healthy,’ then be specific about what that means and then write down the steps that will get you there: ‘join a gym,’ ‘sign up for aerobics classes twice a week,’ ‘change my diet’ (write down your detailed diet plan). If you can’t write down a realistic plan, then that’s a sure sign that your goals are not attainable.

Enlist help

A problem shared is a problem halved, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to a change in lifestyle. If you want to lose weight, find a friend that wants to do the same and put together a plan that you can both sign off on. Similarly, if you want to take cooking classes or join a hiking group, find a friend that will do it with you, so the initial steps are less intimidating and there is peer pressure to stick with the program. If you don’t have a friend nearby, then social media is a great way to share your story and draw inspiration and encouragement from like-minded individuals.

Let technology lend a hand

In the words of the old Apple commercial, there really is an app for that. We carry our smartphones with us wherever we go and it make perfect sense to turn to them when we need a little help with our goals. Whether it’s a financial planning tool, healthy eating suggestions, or a high-energy workout routine, our mobile devices and their app stores will find something that will keep you on track. Certain apps can even manage your whole New Year resolution schedule, from setting up notifications and reminders to automatically sharing your results with friends and family.

Break the routine

While a two mile run every morning at 7 am might feel good for the first week or two, it can quickly grow old, particularly as those dark winter mornings drag on. Make sure you vary your routine, so you don’t get bored or jaded. Resolutions are so much easier to keep when they are fresh and fun!

Reward yourself

While losing a little weight or feeling more organized might be enough of a reward in itself, there’s no harm in adding a few incentives along the way. How about the occasional spa day as you hit certain milestones? Or a weekend away when you are still going strong after six months? Achieving an important goal is always cause for celebration, particularly when you finally get to keep a New Year resolution!

How To Find the Right Apps

By Robyn Wright

Our devices have a lot of great apps preinstalled these days, but there are thousands more available to you in the app stores. For iOS users, that means the iTunes App Store; for Android users, Google Play; and Windows Phone users, the Windows App store.

There are apps designed specifically for smartphones, some just for tablets, and some that will work on multiple types of devices. With so many apps available, it can be a little overwhelming to find new things to try. However, all the stores have tools that can help you find just the right apps.

Register Your Device

Even if you only get free apps, you still want to create an account in your app store. This will store the apps you have download in case you get a new device. It also will help you see just those apps that are compatible with your device. If you do update your device, you can change that information in your account settings whenever you need to.

Editor’s Picks

All the stores have selections made by the editors of the store that they are spotlighting. These are apps that someone who works with apps regularly has looked at and are considered worth your time. Most Editors’ Picks are updated on a weekly basis. Make a habit of checking them out to find great apps.

Top Apps

The stores also have top app lists. Usually there is a top free apps, top paid apps, top game apps, and even top apps for other categories. The top free and paid lists do not change dramatically, but it is worth checking periodically. The other category top lists will change more often. If there is a specific type of app that you are looking for, such as photography, productivity, or weather, then keep an eye on those lists to see what apps are peaking everyone’s interest.

Suggested App Collections

Similar to the Editor’s Picks, many stores have put together collections based on a theme. These app collections will contain an assortment of apps that fall under the theme. Examples might be Apps for Baseball Fans, Finance Apps, or Racing Fan Apps. New collections are added regularly, so be sure to check often to see if any new collections have been added that are of interest to you.

Check the User Ratings

I encourage you to take the time to rate apps that you have used yourself, because these ratings really can be helpful to others. Not all ratings are helpful; some do not give a lot of detail (good or bad), but many can really tell you quite a bit. The more ratings an app has, the more you can trust the overall rating (stars) it has. However, if there are only a few ratings, be sure to read what reviewers are saying to see why some may be high and some low. If the app is not a free app, then this really is an important step, since you have a limited time to get a refund.

Look for Last Update

An app may look great and it may even have a high rating, but that does not mean it is up to date. All the apps will show when the last update was in the description. If it has been a few years, then it may not still be that great since technology has improved so much so quickly.

App Developer Info and Web Sites

Look for the name of the developer of the app in the description. You will start to see some companies over and over again and may find some brands you really like and some you do not like. When you find a company you like, look at other apps they have developed. Some companies will have links to their website as well; go check that out to get even more information.

All of these tips utilize what is already in the app store. If you regularly check out the app store for new apps and updates, you will find it becomes easier to use with each visit. Remember, you can try out as many apps as you like (particularly the free ones), and just uninstall the ones that you are not happy with. Remember, there really is an app for that!

Robyn Wright is a social media specialist and blogs on her own blog, RobynsOnlineWorld.com, as well as several other sites. Robyn has a love for family, technology, food and lots of apps!