Google Translate Adds Phrasebook To Save Your Most Common Phrases

Google Translate now saves items to PhrasebookGoogle continues to be one of the most innovative companies in the world, developing everything from wearable technology to self-driving cars. And while they’re incredibly busy inventing the future, the Internet search giant also continue to upgrade some of their existing products and services, bringing useful new features to the tools we already use.

Take, for example, Google Translate, the fantastic service that gives us the ability to translate text from more than 50 languages. The web-based version is indispensable for reading foreign websites, while the mobile app is great for translating while on the go. Both versions offer the ability to speak the phrases out loud, which can be a handy feature for those of us who happen to be linguistically challenged. The service can be very helpful for anyone looking to learn a new language too, providing help with pronunciation, spelling and more.

Recently Google Translate was updated with a new feature called Phrasebook, which actually lets you save your most commonly used sentences for quick access in the future. To add something to your Phrasebook simply type in the text you want to use and when the phrase appears in its translated form a small star will appear on the screen. Clicking or tapping on that star will then add it to the Phrasebook for quick referral later on. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, but Google has conveniently provided us with step-by-step instructions none the less.

Frequent users of the Google Translate service will no doubt appreciate this addition, particularly if they are using the mobile app while traveling. It can definitely save a lot of time if you find yourself regularly asking the same questions. In the age of cloud services and account syncing, I would have liked to have seen my personal Phrasebook saved across multiple devices, but perhaps that is something we’ll get in a future update. It would be great to type in important sentences on my laptop and have them automatically appear on my smartphone as well.

Travelers will love Google Translate as it obviously applies nicely to what we do. But the addition of the Phrasebook will no doubt come in handy too, saving time and effort while visiting a foreign land.

[Photo Credit: Google]

Spotsi App Helps Travelers Find Local Spots

Maybe you’re in Brooklyn and you want to find a great local bar. Or perhaps you’ve landed in Portland and are in desperate need of a cup of coffee but want to mingle with the locals (and try a locally-made roast while you’re at it). Let Spotsi, a new user-generated mobile app, help

There are lots of apps that help you explore like a local, but Spotsi is a little different. Locals use Spotsi to map their favorite locations in a city – the places they hang out in themselves and would recommend to friends who are visiting. With tours like “Vegetarian & Vegan in Dallas,” and “New York, I Only Love Your Beer, Women, and Art,” the app is a dream for travelers who want to skip tourist traps and explore spots favored by locals. Some tours are even authored by local celebrities, such as Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini, a Portland-based orchestra with 13 members. Of course, anyone can create a tour on Spotsi so long as they are willing to take the time to plot the locations on a map, upload pictures and write short descriptions. More catered to a traveler’s individual interests than a guidebook and far less embarrassing than schlepping along on a city tour, Spotsi might just have what it takes to revolutionize the way we travel.

The only downside to Spotsi is that its makers are currently focusing on Austin and Portland, leaving many other cities virtually off the map. However, the app just debuted in January so it has a lot of room for growth. Anyone from any city is allowed to submit tours – and if the app takes off it could end up being an invaluable resource for travelers to find underground hot spots in cities across the country and globe.

Image: Nong’s Khao Man Gai, one of the stops on Pink Martini’s tour of Portland
[Flickr photo via star5112]

Let’s get it on: travel in the footsteps of Marvin Gaye with this new app

ostend marvin gayeIn 1980, famous singer Marvin Gaye’s life was as at an all-time low. He was depressed, in the midst of a divorce, and even attempted suicide. He owned the IRS millions in back taxes, was having difficulties with Motown Records and was in the throes of a drug addiction.

Fortunately for us, Ostend-born Freddy Cousaert, a passionate music fan and soul lover, arranged a meeting with him in London and during this meeting he invited Marvin to Ostend to get his life back on track.

On February 14, 1981 Marvin Gaye and his son Bubby arrived by boat in Ostend and began a long and rich history with the town.

To celebrate the connection, Toerisme Oostende has launched a mobile app to take guests on a tour of Ostend. During a walking tour of the city, travelers learn all there is to know about Gaye’s recovery and how the monster hit “Sexual Healing” came about.

“We set up an apartment for him and cared for him as if he was a member of the family. The two weeks turned into a month, and the rest is history,” Crousaert said.

Gaye’s story is told through a mix of moving images taken from existing archival footage, completed with photos, newspaper clippings and interviews with the people involved.

The tour is available in Dutch, French, English and German, and available on rented iPods for 5 from the tourism office.

iPhone app review: ‘Spotted By Locals’ European city guides

spotted by localsOn a recent extended trip to Phnom Penh, I decided to bring along my trusty five-pound Southeast Asia on a Shoestring guide from Lonely Planet. Big mistake. In a city changing as quickly as Cambodia‘s capital, I found that nearly all of the information had become dated and irrelevant. Nearly half of the recommended restaurants had gone out of business, and the budget guesthouses, experiencing the “Lonely Planet effect“, were now half as nice, twice as expensive, and filled with people who, well, kinda sucked.

Spotted By Locals aims to be a different kind of travel guide by providing up-to-date travel advice from urban residents through blogs, PDF city guides, and a newly redesigned iPhone app. After road-testing the app, I’d say they’re well on their way.

The Spotted By Locals app is, to put it simply, awesome. Launched in December, the mobile application is 100 percent off-line, which means you don’t need to go bankrupt with data roaming or search endlessly for WiFi hotspots in order to access its wealth of information. And wealth it is. Since the app is currently only available for select European cities, I downloaded the Paris guide, clicked on the map, zoomed into my old street in the Marais, clicked on some of the map markers, and was able to access insider information written by residents about my two favorite vintage shops (Free ‘P’ Star and Vintage Desir, if you must know).

Spotted’s strength lies in its roster of local bloggers, who live in the cities they represent, speak the local language, and volunteer their services for free. The locals are hand-picked by owners Sanne and Bart van Poll, avid travelers based in Amsterdam. Plus, since the locals are active residents of their cities, they’re able to keep the guides’ information current and provide updates nearly in real-time, so you can stay ahead of the Lonely Planet pack.

[images via Spotted By Locals]

September 11 Memorial distributes more than 24,000 passes in first day

September 11As we mentioned yesterday, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum started handing out free passes on Monday in anticipation of their opening to the public on September 12. Everyone anticipated a huge response, and there certainly was one. In just the first few hours that tickets were available, 24,000 were been handed out. Figures for the whole day are not yet available.

The memorial in New York City will open for a private ceremony for the victims’ families this September 11, the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

While the 9/11 memorial is free, because of high demand and limited space within the grounds, tickets must be reserved in advance for a particular entry date and time. Once inside, visitors may stay as long as they like, so this could mean slow lines. You can reserve your tickets online.

[Photo courtesy National Park Service]