- Siri can translate words and phrases into about a dozen languages using the Translate app.
- The Translate app can also host a two-way real-time conversation in two different languages.
- Use the app’s Face to Face mode to split the screen for easier conversations.
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Based on the popularity of online language courses, it seems that everyone wants to learn to speak another language. But it’s not practical to become fluent in the language everywhere you travel or with everyone you need to communicate. Siri can fill that gap by making it easy to translate phrases into about a dozen languages, and even carry on a two-way conversation with someone who speaks no English.
How to use Siri to translate words and phrases
1. If it’s not already installed, go to the App Store and install the Translate app.
2. Activate Siri either by saying “Hey Siri” or pressing and holding the Side button on your iPhone. (On an old phone with a Home button, press and hold the Home button instead).
3. Say the word or phrase you want to translate and indicate the language you want to translate it into. For example, you might say, “Hey Siri, translate ‘what time is it’ into French.”
4. Siri will display a Translate notification and speak the phrase out loud.
When the Translate notification appears, there are two things you can do:
- Tap the Play button to have Siri repeat the phrase in the target language.
- Tap the notification to open the Translate app.
How to host a two-way conversation with Siri Translate
If you want to carry on a conversation with someone using Siri’s Translate abilities, you can do this using the Translate app. You can start the app from your phone’s Home screen or tap the Translate notification after asking Siri to translate a phrase.
The Translate app has three tabs – at the bottom of the screen, you can choose:
- Translation. Translation is handy for translating words or phrases, usually on your own.
- Conversation. If you are interacting with another person, tap Conversation. This screen makes it easy for two people to exchange phrases.
- Favorites. If you tap the Star icon on the Translation screen, you will save that phrase to your favorites. Here is where you can find the list of saved favorites.
To have a conversation:
1. Start the Translate app and tap Conversation.
2. Choose the target languages from the dropdown menus at the top of the screen.
3. Make sure that the app is set to automatically detect languages. Tap the three dots and, in the pop-up menu, make sure there’s a check mark to the left of Detect Language.
4. Tap the icon to the left of the Microphone and choose Face to Face.
5. The screen now splits, with the two languages on opposite sides of the screen. Each person can take turns tapping the Microphone icon and speaking. The text will translate and appear translated on the other side of the screen.
6. When you’re done with the conversation, tap the X at the top right of the screen.
If you prefer, you can leave the screen in Side by Side mode. If you do this, both people will need to be on the same side of the phone, but text appears on the left and right, like a text message chat.
Dave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer tech and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into modern-day real life. Dave grew up in New Jersey before entering the Air Force to operate satellites, teach space operations, and do space launch planning. He then spent eight years as a content lead on the Windows team at Microsoft. As a photographer, Dave has photographed wolves in their natural environment; he’s also a scuba instructor and co-host of several podcasts. Dave is the author of more than two dozen books and has contributed to many sites and publications including CNET, Forbes, PC World, How To Geek, and Insider.