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Android gets Google Translate update
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Android users who have found themselves fighting the language barrier have probably heard of Google Translate, a free translation app for Android. Although it’s not the most feature-packed translator for Android, it offers a simple way to translate basic words and phrases among dozens of languages. It also includes spoken translations and romanization of non-Roman scripts. Although sentences may come out kind of wonky depending on the structure, it definitely works in a pinch.

Today, Google announced an update for its Translate app, with a focus on tweaks that aim to make the interface easier to navigate and the program more user-friendly. Among the changes: a more responsive input box, improved drop-down boxes for selecting languages to translate between, and a cleaner layout.

Google Translate is also introducing an experimental feature called Conversation Mode. The idea with this mode is to allow you to communicate fluidly with someone nearby who is speaking another language. With the press a button, the app will record your piece of the conversation; it will then translate your speech and read it aloud to the other person. At launch, Conversation Mode is only available between English and Spanish, and while it is in alpha, factors like background noise and regional dialects are expected to interfere somewhat with the functionality.

Originally posted at Android Atlas

Mix it up with Virtual DJ

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Virtual DJ)

Digital disc spinning has skyrocketed in popularity over the past five years and it’s no wonder why. Compared with a full vinyl setup with all the hardware and physical media that requires, an MP3-based mixing station is extremely simple and cheap. There’s even free software to get you started, and one of the most popular programs available is Virtual DJ.

Read the full Virtual DJ review.

Who has better coverage in your area, AT&T or Verizon? This app shows you

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Residents of Bay City, Mich., might be better off with AT&T than Verizon, at least when it comes to 3G coverage.

Screenshot by Rick Broida)

Want to know how Verizon’s network coverage compares with AT&T’s for a particular location? Wondering if Sprint or T-Mobile might be better than either one? Maybe you just need to find out which direction to drive to get a decent signal for your broadband modem. Whatever your need, there’s an app for you: Coverage?

That question-mark isn’t a mistake; Coverage? is the app’s official name, and its choice of punctuation reflects its capability to provide an answer.

All you do is run the app, let it hone in on your location, then tap one or more carriers to see coverage data overlaid on the map. You can, of course, scroll and zoom the map to see coverage for any areas, not just the one you’re in.

Because different carriers offer different levels of coverage for different types of service, Coverage? lets you choose which data to display: 3G, 2G, or Roaming. That can come in very handy if, say, you’re headed out of a town and want to know what to expect, service-wise, at your destination.

The app is a bit different from the Root Metrics tool that shows cell-phone carrier coverage in your area. That one’s based on user-collected data; Coverage? relies on “proprietary interpretations” of the coverage reported by each carrier.

If you’re a frequent traveler, a “bandwidth junkie” who routinely juggles devices on multiple networks, or are just curious about which carrier works best for a particular area, Coverage? should prove mighty handy. It sells for $1.99.

Originally posted at iPhone Atlas

‘Google Places’ Yelp rival comes to iPhone
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There’s a nice variety of criteria for rating a business.

Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

Google’s Google Places pushes further on Yelp today as it joins iPhone. Like Yelp, the free app, originally released for Android, lets you look up and rate local business. Since it’s Google, the Places app ups the ante with another feature, recommendations supplied by Google’s Hotpot recommendations engine.

To start using Places, log into your Google account and begin either searching for local businesses or browsing by category for nearby listings. Categories include the usuals–coffee, restaurants, gas stations, post offices, hotels, and so on. In addition, you can effortlessly add your own search categories even if they’re not specially recommended.

The Google Places app slurps content from Google Place Pages, a Web project to automatically aggregate information about businesses, including user ratings, into a single Google-hosted Web page. Much of the information already lives on the Web (although businesses can also participate), but Google’s involvement clearly looms over Yellow Pages and all other listings and rating sites’ territory, particularly because it also links to the company’s ubiquitous maps.

When you click up a listing, you’ll have options to read reviews, locate it on a map, call or find directions, and review the location. You can also review a business from the Places home screen if the GPS correctly identifies your location (this won’t always be the case). Your reviews join everyone else’s in contributing to the overall score you see on any Place page.

Google’s socializing gambit is google.com/hotpot, a related site for adding Google-using friends. The Hotpot recommendation engine being used in the Places apps then takes your buddies’ reviews into account when recommending good places for you to try.

The app was convenient and easy to use overall, but we did wish it were easier to browse by category for places in a different location, not necessarily where you are. We’d also expect Google to start taking advantage of this crowdsourcing app by offering some sort of daily deal a la Groupon, or other discounts. Places is straightforward, without some of Yelp’s more advanced features, like the augmented reality feature, Monacle.

For now, Google Places for iPhone is available in English, with other languages expected soon.

Originally posted at iPhone Atlas