iPhone For Dummies: Updated for iPhone 12 models and iOS 14
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If you’ve ever been desperate to find a bathroom in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, or are merely a famished tourist seeking a decent place to eat, you'll surely appreciate the iPhone's new Translate app, which arrived with iOS 14.

As of this writing, the app can translate text or voice across a dozen language pairs, even when you're offline: English US and UK, Arabic, Chinese (China mainland), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Tap the microphone icon and speak to have your words translated. Or type text using the keyboard native to the chosen language. Here’s what's neat: That language-specific keyboard will automatically slide up; you need not manually download or select the keyboard. Apple supplies a Favorites area for saved translations.

When you select a keyboard in a different language — or English for that matter — you can select different software keyboard layouts (QWERTY, AZERTY, QWERTX) and a hardware keyboard layout (if you connect a hardware keyboard via Bluetooth).

You can also turn the phone to its side to enter a conversation mode with a split screen showing text from two speakers, as shown in the following figure, left. Or tap a button when you’re in landscape mode to grab a local speaker’s attention, as shown, right.

From any view, press the play arrow to hear the translated phrase spoken out loud. It could be a lifesaver when nature calls.

iPhone Translate app Turn the phone to its side to enter conversation mode (left) or attention mode (right).

A keyboard for all borders

Apple continues to expand the iPhone’s global reach by supplying international keyboard layouts for more than 120 languages. To access a keyboard that isn’t customized for Americanized English, tap Settings  →  General  →  Keyboard, Keyboards  →  Add New Keyboard. Up pops a list with custom keyboards for numerous countries.

Have a multilingual household? You can select, in turn, as many international keyboards as you want. When you’re working in an app that summons a keyboard, tap the international keyboard key until you see the keyboard you want. Tap again to select the next keyboard in the list of international keyboards (as well as the Emoji keyboard) that you turned on in Settings. Keep cycling to get back to your original English layout.

Here’s an alternative method for summoning a keyboard you’ve enabled: Press your finger against the international keyboard key to summon a pop-up window that displays all the keyboards that are ready for action. Slide your finger along the list until it lands on the keyboard you want to use (or Keyboard Settings) and then release it to select that keyboard.

You can use handwriting character recognition for simplified and traditional variations of Chinese. Just drag your finger in the box provided. Some Chinese keyboards don’t rely on handwriting.

And here’s another neat trick: You can type in two languages you’ve enabled without switching from one to the other. Just type the appropriate word or words in whichever language makes sense and the iPhone takes a stab at what it thinks you mean to type next — in the appropriate language. The list of compatible paired languages includes English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. And this multilingual typing feature is also supported for English and Chinese.

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