Waygo Is The Way To Go!

At Applingua, there’s nothing we love more than finding a cool app. This week we came across Waygo. The BBC Travel Show describes it as “amazing” but we’d describe it as the future of translation and localization. Recently on our Facebook Page and Twitter we’ve been sharing articles which look at the direction the industry’s going in. There are more and more apps which instantly translate what you hear or see. And we think this is only the beginning.

What does it do?

This app is just incredible. And of course there is an video ad which sums neatly what it does and how it works. Watch the ad below:

Most of us love a bit of Chinese food, but ordering it in actual Chinese is an entirely different story. Now, translating foreign menus is a little bit easier thanks to this app. Waygo is an augmented reality visual translation app that just launched its food photo feature. It vows to provide greater context and clarity when translating Asian food menus and other signage.


Waygo co-founder and product director Kevin Clark says:

“Translating a menu might tell you generally what the dish is, but it doesn’t give users the full story. Our food photo feature makes it easier to be more adventurous when ordering off foreign menus with confidence and understanding.”

How does it work?

The new feature boasts Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and offline image processing, allowing for efficient, convenient translation. It stores 4,000 Chinese dishes and more than 14,000 images. Interestingly, the app uses minimal disk space and works even without an internet connection. It allows users to obtain meaningful translations of food items, subway signs and instructions instead of character-by-character translation that’s usually the case with other translation apps, which often make little sense.

Other than Chinese, Waygo also translates Japanese and Korean to English.

This is a significant breakthrough because photo featuring could be added to other general translating applications to help deepen cultural context, an incredibly important aspect when translating cross-culturally.

When translating complex content, it’s essential that at least a part of it is done by humans – see our post on when Translating Goes Wrong. However, visual aids could add a deeper understanding when human translation is not feasible.

How is it different?

Whilst it may seem like there are other apps out there that do the same thing, Waygo’s superiority comes in its photo featuring and offline usability. To check if Waygo really is ground-breaking, we tested it out on a Chinese menu ourselves. In less than a second, Waygo had the translations up, while Google Translate was still scanning the photo taken of the menu. To prove again why Waygo is superior, we tried it again with our phone in AirPlane mode. Once again, Waygo instantly came up with accurate results, whereas Google Translate kindly informed us there was no Internet connection to complete the translation. The offline feature for Waygo will probably be incredibly useful for travellers, as it’ll save loads on roaming charges overseas and lack of Wi-Fi.

Waygo currently works on a freemium model – the free version of Waygo allows users 10 free translations a day, and the paid version ($6.99 per language) allows users unlimited translations. Short-term travellers can also opt for a week-long unlimited translation package at USD $1.99. It’s available for download on iOS and Android.

It makes us wonder: just how far can the sophistication of automated translation can go?


Robert Lo Bue

Rob is CEO of Applingua. With over a decade's experience, he is at the forefront of tech localization.

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