Abby Foto Translate

ABBYY FotoTranslate

The internet is a large network where people of different backgrounds, cultures and languages mingle. It is not surprising that we often encounter content that is foreign to us, be it in a forum or blog post. When browsing the web, the solution is simple, simply copy whatever text it is that you want to translate and let popular services such as Babel Fish or Google Translate translate it for you. But what happens when the the content you want to translate is in an image? What if it’s not even on the internet, but in the real world? Enter ABBYY FotoTranslate.

ABBYY Foto Translate is an application for Symbian mobile phones that combines optical character recognition (OCR) technology and a mobile dictionary to convert images of words into translated text  – in other words, the app takes an image of some text in one language, recognizes that text, and translates it to another languge. ABBYY FotoTranslate is only compatible with Nokia phones so my Samsung i8910 and i8510 didn’t work (I tried). For this review I tried to use the Nokia n96 but that didn’t work very well either. Finally I used the n86 and it worked like a charm. I would advise you to download a trail version of the application here to check if it’s compatible with your device. The application is beautifully crafted and most importantly, it works, it works very well indeed. For the review I got the Italian – English Concise Oxford Paravia Dictionary. Why you ask? Well, the Italians won the World Cup 2010, so I figured: if you can’t beat them, join them! Anyway, I was thoroughly impressed by the application. Using it is simple, all you have to do is point the camera to the text that needs to be translated and it translates it effortlessly. The text is translated word for word with the original word in the captured image highlighted. More on this in the video review after the break.

Overall, if you need this kind of application, whether you’re learning a language, travelling or just plain interested, you can not go wrong with ABBYY FotoTranslate.


  • Intelligent and effective user interface
  • The app works as advertised and it does a very good job at it.
  • Works offline, meaning that there are no additional charges that you may incur after purchasing the app.
  • Although its pretty accurate, you have the option to correct misidentified words on the fly.
  • Reasonably priced.


  • Limitations of capture: If the text to be translated covers a wide area, you have to pull the phone back to capture everything. This affects the quality of the image taken and hence the translated result. You’re forced to have to capture bits and pieces of text at a time when translating text from a monitor or an A4 paper in landscape for instance.
  • The translation is done word for word – not as a sentence/phrase. This might be inconvenient for some depending on how it is used.
  • Device compatibility: The application is only compatible with a the limited number of Nokia devices listed here. That list appears to be growing though and hopefully they’ll extend compatibility to other manufacturers with compatible hardware.


The Anphase Blog is giving away 3 full licences of ABBYY Fototranslate versions of your choice. All you need to do is:

  1. Follow me on twitter if you’re not already doing so and,
  2. Retweet this link to the review,

and that’s it. The winners will be announced in the following weeks and I will contact them on Twitter with the licences. The giveaway is open to everyone and the winners will be selected randomly. If you do not own a compatible device, you can always refer it or gift it to people you know who may need it. Stay tuned for more reviews and Giveaways!