Amazon’s Kindle: Your Newest Universal Translator

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Purists may prefer the look and feel of a real book, but the Kindle is a great device for reading on the go. Now, courtesy of a new Kindle app called Kindlefish, it has another use: a universal translator.

The app makes it possible to use Google Translate on your Kindle with minimal hassle. Because the device has limited web capabilities, the regular version of Google Translate doesn’t work on it.  Meanwhile, the mobile version presents you with your translated text in such a tiny font that it’s hard to read.  As Goldilocks would say, Kindlefish’s screen is “just right”- a simple, trimmed down version of Google Translate that works on the Kindle and presents your translation in big, clear, easy to read letters.

On the app’s About Page, the creator writes:

“I wrote this page in preparation for a couple trips abroad with the idea that anywhere I go I should be able to pull out my Kindle, punch in my message and get a easily legible message back to help with communication.”

We’ve covered a variety of translation apps for smartphones in the past, but using a Kindle instead has several advantages:

  • Google Translate lets you translate between 57 languages
  • Using Google Translate on Kindle’s 3G wireless network is free, whereas depending on your cell phone carrier and plan you could rack up hefty charges for data if you use your phone.
  • The large, clear font makes it easy for the people around you to read what you’re trying to say.
  • The Kindle’s special screen is easy to read even in bright sunlight.

Keep in mind that   there are also disadvantages to relying on machine translation to communicate – sometimes it produces translations which are just awkward or even flat-out wrong. So, if you use this app and people start pointing and laughing at your Kindle screen, that might be why. For business conversations or for translating important documents, it’s best to get professional help.