Google Translate for the iPhone est arrivé

Google has given xenophobic British holiday-makers yet another excuse not to learn even a few words of the language of the countries they visit in the form of Google Translate for the iPhone.

The App translates spoken or typed phrases on the fly, offering them back in authentic national accents. From what we can tell with our lapsed schoolboy French and very rudimentary Greek, the results are spot-on.

The only drawback is that the App requires a network connection to work so it won't be much use on that camel-buying trip to the Sudan, and could cost you a pretty penny in international data roaming charges if you can find a suitable signal.

The App does, however, save your translation history even when off-line, so building up library of useful phrases, some of which we have offered below, could be a good idea.

As with any App that relies on voice recognition, it's far from perfect even if you do speak in your best 1950s BBC newsreader accent (for some reason, plumminess is well received) - but you at least get the option to manually correct any minor errors using the on-screen keypad.

The ability to copy and paste chunks of text from other Apps is also a bonus, although the text-to-speech function is limited to 100 characters, no doubt to lighten the load on Google's servers.

Google Translate for iPhone isn't perfect, but at the bargain price of no pounds we'll forgive its foibles. We're quite happy to say that this is an essential download for everyone's iPhone, although we'd have liked to see the iPhone's camera get in on the action with a text recognition function. Maybe that will tip up in a later version.

And there's no excuse for iPod Touch or iPad users either, as the App will work quite happily with any device capable of running iOS 3.0 or later.

Here's a full and mightily impressive list of the languages on offer, only 23 of which offer voice translation.

Afrikaans, Albanian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Arabic, Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, Yiddish.