Prepare for your next vacation with TripLingo

By Pete Davison Comment

TripLingo is an iOS app from the company of the same name. It has been around for a little while, but recently launched a significant “Version 2.0″ update that saw it take a feature spot in the “New and Noteworthy” section of the App Store. It’s available now as a free download, though in-app purchases are required to take advantage of its full functionality.

TripLingo supports 11 different languages ranging from French to Japanese. Upon starting the app for the first time, the user must create an account (which can be done using Facebook if desired) or sign in, then pick which of the languages they would like to focus on. Once this is done, the user may then make use of the app’s various different components. The login process is used to save a user’s language learning progress online, as well as track which premium features they have available.

The simplest part of the app simply provides a bank of common phrases for users to learn. Each of these is accompanied by the option to hear it spoken slowly or at “normal” speed, the option to view it phonetically or in non-English alphabets where applicable, and the option to see how the phrase translates in formal, casual, slang and “crazy” contexts. A “context” button provides a short note explaining when it is appropriate to use that particular variation on the phrase — particularly important in cultures where a strong focus is places on social context such as Japan.

The app also includes a “voice to voice” translation function, in which users may speak a word or phrase in either their own or the target language, and the app will then translate it and speak it out loud. It’s also possible to simply type in a word or phrase instead of speaking it if the voice recognition does not pick up the user’s voice effectively. Free users are limited in the number of voice translations they may use. If the automatic translation function isn’t proving particularly effective, it’s also possible to purchase time which can be used to speak to a live translator, though this is not available for all languages.

The app also provides a “flashcards” facility, where users can see a phrase in their own language and then tap to see it in the target language. They may then indicate whether or not they knew this phrase, and their “competence level” of the language is tracked accordingly. A “lingo status” bar and level on the app’s main screen adds an element of gamification to this aspect, encouraging users to engage with their language studies by making them want to “level up.”

Other features in the app include a searchable dictionary, some words on various aspects of culture in the target language’s country of origin, and a “word bank,” browsable by category.

The free edition of TripLingo is designed to give users a taste of what is on offer and encourage them to pay up for the app’s premium features, which include an offline dictionary, 1,200 phrases per language for specific travel situations, and fewer limitations on the voice translation function. Support for a single language costs $9.99; three languages may be purchased for $19.99 (33% off buying them individually) and the complete package may be purchased for $49.99 (65% off buying them individually).

Interestingly, there’s a noticeable divide in reactions to the app from American and British App Store customers. American App Store reviewers are very positive about the app and its capabilities — particularly in its premium incarnation — while British customers focus heavily (and negatively) on the app’s requirement to log in and sign up rather than what it is actually capable of doing. It would perhaps be to TripLingo’s benefit to allow the facility to use the app in a limited form without logging in, but require premium paying users to create an account — as it stands, it looks like they are losing a lot of British customers as a result of this requirement. The American version of the app currently stands at an average of 4.5 stars from its user reviews; the British App Store, meanwhile, shows the app with a 1.5 star rating.

TripLingo is currently ranked at No. 20 in Top Free Travel Apps and No. 8 in Top Grossing Travel Apps — though its feature spot on the App Store front page may help it pick up the numbers in the coming weeks with this new version. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.