Whether you’re a frequent traveler, simply learning a new language, or interacting with someone who speaks in a different language, Siri for iOS now has the fantastic ability to translate between languages on the fly. For example, you can ask Siri to say “I need a taxi ride to the airport” in French, and Siri will not only instantly translate that for you in written text, but also say it aloud.
Essentially you can think of of Siri on iPhone or iPad as a digital translator that is always with you, and it works to translate between English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
Try it out yourself, it works really well and is quite fast.
How to Translate Between Languages with Siri Instantly on iPhone and iPad
Think of Siri like your personal translator, it’s super easy to use on iOS:
- Summon Siri on the iPhone or iPad by using a button press or Hey Siri voice command
- Tell Siri “Translate (phrase) into (language)”, where language is either Spanish, French, German, Italian, or Mandarin Chinese
Siri will instantly translate the phrase into the language specified. The translation is immediately spoken aloud, and also written out in text on the phone. Additionally, there is a little play button next to the translation to play the spoken translation again, so you can easily repeat the translated phrase too.
You can also ask Siri “How do you say (word or phrase) in (language)”.
Siri will report back the phrase translated into the requested language.
Example Siri Language Translation Phrases
For examples of what you can say for Siri to translate, try saying or requesting things like the following:
- ‘Translate “I’d like to order the chicken schnitzel” in German’
- ‘How do you say “I do not want sour cream in burrito” in Spanish’
- ‘Translate “I need a taxi to the airport in 2 hours” in French’
- ‘How do you say “this is the best piccata I have ever had” in Italian”
- ‘Translate “what do you think of iPhone X” into Chinese’
- ‘How do you say “give me two train tickets to Geneva” in German’
The key is to tell Siri specifically at the start of the command either to “translate” or ask “how do you say”, followed by the phrase and the language. If you simply tell Siri a phrase and then follow it up with “in (language)” it will not work properly. For example if Siri starts trying to search the web for something you asked, you didn’t make the right request, or Siri interpreted you wrong, or you’re speaking to it wrong.
Not all major languages are supported yet with Siri translation, and currently Siri only can translate between English, French, Italian, German, and Mandarin Chinese, but it’s probable that other popular languages will debut in the future. Notably absent are the other major global languages with hundreds of millions of speakers, like Portuguese, Bahasa, Hindi, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Punjabi, Korean, and others, but it’s quite likely translation capabilities for these other languages will arrive with future Siri updates and iOS versions.
If you’re heading on vacation somewhere but aren’t quite fluent (or don’t speak a lick) in the native tongue, Siri is suddenly your indispensable travel companion. Of course this new Siri translation capability will also be useful for learning foreign languages and just communicating with people who are speak foreign languages, and not just traveling. Surely there will be a handful of kids who discover Siri language translation has made their French homework much easier too… And for those who are using this for educational purposes, don’t forget you can also change the language on your iPhone or iPad or MacA, which may further help you to learn a foreign language by immersing yourself a bit further.
The only requirements for Siri translation is that the iPhone or iPad be running iOS 11 or later and has an active internet connection, either cellular or wi-fi. This means if you’re abroad somewhere, you could grab a local SIM card and use your iPhone with you to translate anywhere you go, or use the translation ability anywhere there is wi-fi. However you use it, this is an undeniably convenient feature and a very welcome addition to iOS and Siri.
Have fun and try it out yourself, it’s pretty great!