If you’ve ever traveled to a land where you don’t speak the native language, you may know the horror of swinging open a door to a bathroom and seeing a man (or perhaps lack of men) at a urinal, who may then begin shouting at you in a language you don’t understand.
If you’ve got an iPhone, you can avoid the inconvenience of being American not being able to speak/read signs in other languages now with the Babelshot app. Most likely named for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Babelfish (and not the AltaVista translation service of the same name) Babelshot “reads” pictures of signs and other print materials like menus and translates them for you.
According to Macworld, supported languages include:
Afrikaans, Albanian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, and Turkish.
If you’re willing to tap-input the words, you can also translate Arabic, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Macedonian, Persian, Russian, Serbian, Thai, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. Obviously, you need a send and receive data to translate, so if you plan on using it, make sure you plan on roaming too. Babelshot costs a reasonable two bucks, and you can get it in the app store now.