Lourdes and I want to show you a collection of my favourite apps for interpreters. Most of them are iPad apps, but some of them are also available for other platforms. Some are free, some are not, but I don’t indicate prices here because they change all the time. The apps are sorted in alphabetical order.
And now, let’s get started!
Nowadays, we all use a lot of websites, day in, day out. Email, social networks, online shopping, home banking, the list goes on. You know you should have a unique and strong password for each site, don’t you? Well, 1Password makes it easy to generate and manage secure passwords for all the sites and apps you use on a regular basis. All you have to remember is one, strong master password. The app manages not only log-ins, but also credit card information, ID documents, reward programs or software licenses. 1Password is available for all Apple and Android devices.
Did you know that you can not only read books, but also listen to them? Audible is a huge library of high-quality audiobooks with lots and lots of fiction and non-fiction titles. It’s a great way to learn new things and to get more reading done.
Audible is available for iOS, Android and Windows.
Remember when you had to cram new words in school? Well, sometimes we still have to do that as grown-up interpreters, be it for a fisheries meeting or a medical conference. Biscuit – which is available for iOS and Android – is a great app for that. You can very easily create new lists, for example by highlighting words in an article you are reading in the browser or in a document you are preparing. Throughout the day, Biscuit can send you notifications with a word in your list and its equivalent in another language. If you are an Evernote user (and you should be), you can unlock additional features like adding your Biscuit word lists to the Peek app, which I will present later, or taking a photo of a page in a book and have Evernote and Biscuit generate a word list from that page.
Documents is a long-time favourite of mine. First of all, it’s a file manager that lets you organize, let’s say, all the bits and pieces you have collected for a given meeting or conference. You can copy, move, rename, zip and unzip files, put them into folders and give them different colours. Documents works with all Office documents (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) and even music and video. When your material is in the PDF format, it is very easy to make annotations like highlight, underline, strikethrough, comments etc. The app will automatically generate an overview of all the annotations you have made in the text
, so it’s very easy to navigate it. Available only for iOS. An alternative for Android and Windows Phone, albeit with fewer features, is Adobe Reader (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.adobe.reader&hl=en
Peek is just such a brilliant idea. It uses your iPad and Apple’s Smart Cover or Smart Case for learning all kinds of stuff: new words, definitions or world capitals, for example. You start the app and close the lid. Now, just open the first segment of the smart cover to see the question or hint. If you know the answer, close the cover and repeat. If you’re not sure, open the second segment of the cover to see the correct answer and then click on “Correct” or “Incorrect”. Voilà, there’s an ingenious way to use your iPad for learning. Note that this app requires a (free) Evernote account and works very well with the Biscuit app I showed you earlier.
Every interpreter has witnessed their fair share of boring PowerPoint presentations. Now, whether you are giving presentations yourself or you’re talking to a presenter, you should know about HaikuDeck. This free app makes it dead-simple to create interesting presentations with little text and great visuals – photos, graphs or diagrams. You can use HaikuDeck on the iPad, the iPhone and on the web.
Interpreters need to know about almost everything: world affairs, economics, sports, arts, you name it. A good way to keep up with it all is to use RSS feeds. Almost every website has them: click a button and you are automatically subscribed to the new content the site publishes. Mr. Reader is where I read all that content. I can easily browse the headlines and see a thumbnail image. If I want to read an article, I just tap and open it. When I’m done, I can save content for later, email it or share it on social networks. Mr. Reader is an iPad-only app, but Feedly (feedly.com) and Flipboard (flipboard.com) are great alternatives on Android.
Tablets are great devices for note-taking. On a tablet, you have several options: Not only can you type on the screen or with an additional keyboard. You can also write with your hand, or your finger, to be more precise. Or maybe use a stylus instead? What about recording the sound in the room while you take your notes, for example at a seminar or lecture? Notability, by Ginger Labs, lets you do all three, and at the same time, to boot. Even cooler: if you type your notes and record the audio, both are synchronised. Once you’re done, just tap on something you typed and listen to what was said at that exact point in time.
As said earlier, interpreters read a lot, both at home and on the go. But sometimes, you stumble upon a very interesting article that you absolutely want to read, just not right now because you’re busy. Just put it in Pocket. Pocket is a “read-it-later” app, that will store all those must-not-miss articles and downloads them in a clean format to be read later, when you have time. Now, you always have reading material for long trips or when you’re relaxing in your favourite armchair. Pocket is a free app on iOS and Android.
In addition to RSS newsfeeds, which I mentioned earlier, podcasts are a great way to learn new things and to keep up with what’s going on. By subscribing to podcasts you like, you make sure you never miss an episode of your favourite show. Most big broadcasters such as the BBC make their programming available in this format so you can listen to it whenever and wherever you want. PocketCasts – available on iOS and Android – is a great app to manage your podcast subscriptions. It will even download new episodes automatically in the background, if you so choose.
Here’s another app from Readdle and it’s extremely useful. You have probably been in that situation where you needed a piece of paper in digital form in order to email it to someone, for example. Your tablet has a built-in camera which usually provides good image quality. With scanner apps like Scanner Pro, you can just take a photo of your document and turn it into a neat PDF document. The app will recognize the edges of that piece of paper and automatically correct the perspective. You can also adjust the brightness or sharpen the picture, or change it from colour to grayscale. A good Android alternative to Scanner Pro is CamScanner (camscanner.com).
Tap Forms is general-purpose database app that I use for terminology management. It is well-designed and easy to use. I can create my own glossaries with any data field I want (even images) or I can import glossaries in the CSV format that I find on the web. Tap Forms also lets me share my data with colleagues in several ways. Tap Forms is an iPad
app. Android users should check out the Memento (mementodatabase.com
) database app.
The last app for now is TripIt, available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. TripIt helps you organise and manage all your private and business trips. Whenever you get a confirmation email for a flight or a hotel booking, just forward it to TripIt. The service will automatically extract all the relevant information and create a useful trip plan for you, so you see everything you need to know about your trip at a glance. You can check your flight status and even rebook when something does not go as planned.
We hope you have enjoyed this app overview.
Alexander DRECHSEL is staff interpreter at DG INTERPRETATION, European Commission.