As we near ever closer to iOS 15’s fall 2021 release, more and more features are being added to the beta builds. One of the latest additions is a new, system-level translation feature that can translate just about any text on your iPhone’s screen.
The new translation tool will be available for all iOS 15 devices once the update rolls out sometime in the coming months, but those running the iOS 15 beta can test it out right now:
- Long-tap on a word, sentence, or paragraph until the text is highlighted blue. You can drag your finger to change how much text is selected.
- Tap the new “Translate” option from the pop-up menu. Tap the arrow to scroll over if you don’t see it.
- Translated text appears in a small window over whatever apps you have open. The window will also have options to copy and share the translated text.
Translations happen remotely on Apple’s servers by default, so your phone will recognise and interpret the words automatically. That’s helpful, but not everyone will want to share that data with Apple. Luckily, your device will prompt you with a warning the first time you use the translation feature, and you can opt to have the translation happen locally on your device instead.
To enable offline translation in iOS 15:
- Go to Settings > Translation and toggle “On-Device Translation.”
The trade-off is you need to download language data for each language you want to translate, which will take up a portion of your device’s storage. You will also need to be online to download the necessary files. Still, the offline mode will be helpful if you’re ever without wifi and mobile connections, and none of your offline translations are shared with Apple.
Thankfully, the iOS 15 text translation is a system-wide feature and should be usable with most apps and web pages — whether you use online or offline mode. That said, it can’t translate text from images and won’t work in apps and games that don’t have selectable text. Some other apps, like Google Translate, can translate text in photos and other media if that’s something you need.