Papago is an AI translator for iOS and Android

The parrot bird logo for Papago

Papago is an on-the-fly translation app for text, conversations, and signs. It’s available both on the web and for iOS/Android. Let’s take a look and see what makes it different than the other translation apps out there.

A little background info on Papago

Papago is an easy to use app for translation or for having a conversation that can be translated on the fly with someone that doesn’t speak your language. The word “papago” means parrot in the Esperanto language

The green Naver logo

It is developed for the web and mobile by Naver, the biggest search engine in South Korea and also known as “Korea’s Google”. 

What makes it special?

Upon first launching Papago, users are greeted with a very simple interface for choosing what they want to do. Users can type something to be translated, use the camera for translation of signs, or tap the conversations button for live translation between two people having a conversation in different languages.

A screenshot of the main UI

Papago supports 13 languages : Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese (Simplified/Traditional), Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Russian, German and Italian. This is considerably much less than the bigger players such as Google or Microsoft.

A fun alternative to the big boys

While the actual translations may or may not be as good as those from Google’s constantly improving translation power, Papago has a few features that make it stand out from being “just another translation app”. Some of these include a kid mode which features pictured flash cards in a few selected languages. 

The kids mode in Papago

In addition, the app includes a phrase section, offline translation abilities, handwriting translation with finger, a built-in dictionary, and a website translation feature.

Papago also has a phrase book feature which could be very useful

Final Thoughts

Papago was introduced to me in a scenario where I was with many Korean speakers who could not speak English or Japanese. By using this app, I was able to smoothly have conversations back in forth with my phone displaying both my phrase and the other speaker’s words on the screen at the same time as we spoke. For anyone looking for Google Translate alternatives, I say give this a try.

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