App Roundup: Lost in translation

background There I was. On a train from Paris to Barcelona, passing the time by playing Roulette on my iPhone. Someone sits down next to me; I think nothing of it. Probably another bumbling tourist excited to go see Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. “Perdon, Senor, que hora es?” I look up to identify the voice. There she was: a beautiful Spanish girl in a short skirt; the warm sun shining on her perfectly tanned body. Takes me a second to realize I’m staring. Get it in gear, Gagan. Bumbling like a fool, I frantically thumb through the iPhone home screens to find it. Got it. Thank god I bought this app before I came. I ask her to repeat, “K or S?” She replies, “No, que hora es?” Ohhhh, Que not K. What does that mean again? I type away on my keyboard and search for “que”. It doesn’t recognize it. She asks again, “Que hora es?” This time I just type “qu” – no, not quail, not quit. Arggghh! These are just English words. Oh shit: all I’ve got is a one-way translator. The app doesn’t convert Spanish to English. I look up again, and say the only thing I know: “Sorry, no hablo espanol.” She, frustrated, gets up and walks away. There goes my chance. Red with embarrassment, I return to my iPhone. No Spanish ladies for me.

copy-of-iphone-pics-1096App #1 – Yubisashi Spain/China/Japan: Is “donde esta el bano?” about all the Spanish you know? Don’t even know that? (“Where is the bathroom?”) Then, Yubisashi Spain (iTunes Store) is the app for you. Or not. Phoenix Communications, a language software company in Japan, has released the Yubisashi language series in three different apps. The apps are essentially pocket dictionaries that allow you to type in English phrases/words and get translations of those words on your iPhone. But there’s no reverse translating. So, while the app is great for searching how to say “how much should I pay” in Spanish, you can’t translate the response “dieciocho pesos” into “18 pesos”. The interface is pretty solid, the search is good, and it even speaks out the translated phrase via your phone. But, without reverse translating – it just doesn’t provide sufficient utility to warrant the whopping $10 price tag.

copy-of-iphone-pics-1103App #2 – Making Faces: Uhh, I think the picture says it all. This app allows you to take a picture and then screw with it. It doesn’t have to be a face, but that’s what the developer, MetaTools, expects you to do with Making Faces (iTunes link). In fact, they’re even going to give $1,000 to the person who sends in the funniest picture. The app works OK, though the UI needs some work: there are tons of options on how to mess with the picture you take, but there’s no easy way to understand what each of the icons mean. Also, the method by which you actually edit the picture is not totally intuitive. But, it might be worth $3 if you think you can earn $1,000. Plus, taking pics of your friends and making them look like they’re balding might be entertaining.

copy-of-iphone-pics-1093App #3 – Astraware Casino: Currently #2 on the App Store’s Casino games, Astraware Casino (iTunes link) has everything you need to simulate that trip to Vegas you’ve been planning but can’t afford. Playing it probably won’t provide you the same thrills as the guys in The Hangover, but you also won’t almost miss your wedding or get arrested. 11 games for $1 is the real draw here, and there’s no other Casino app that can boast that kind of bang-for-buck ratio. The games are also fairly well-delivered. Though the graphics aren’t going to knock your socks off, it’s still a fun little time-passer Casino game. Definitely worthwhile if faux gambling is what you’re into.

If you have an app worth checking out, shoot us an e-mail at gaganATcrunchgearDOTcom (with the obvious substitutions in place, of course).