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Siri for the Apple iPhone 4S – Talking out of a Japanese butt?

The launch of Siri, the “Intelligent Personal Assistant” for the iPhone 4S, has been greeted with all the hype you’d expect from Apple’s latest development. What is more surprising is the faux pas that Apple has managed to commit in naming this new app.

“Siri” sounds similar to the Japanese word for buttocks (“shiri”), perhaps this helps to explain some of the ‘attitude’ that comes from it…

What’s more, it has come to our attention that Siri also means “penis” in Georgian! While this may not be one of the countries Apple intends to target with this new app, it’s quite an oversight to make.

What is incredible is that a multi-national corporation like Apple, established in over 90 countries worldwide, and that spends billions of dollars in product development every year, chose to cut corners on something so important as international branding. It’s a shame no-one offers a service to check brand names for their suitability in an international market…oh, wait a minute….

Siri is currently available in 14 languages, including Japanese – let’s hope they didn’t use the same provider for the app localisation as they did for the brand name!

On a serious note, this episode just goes to show that even the most experienced corporates don’t always get it right. Learn from Apple’s embarassing lesson and research your brand names before you launch your company or product internationally – Apple have built a reputation that allows them to call their products names that may sound silly at first, but in the long run they tend to get away with it (remember the comparisons that were made between the iPad and feminine hygiene products?). Unfortunately, most companies are not so lucky.

If you need help with your international online product launch, or iPhone app, please contact us: sales[at]web-translations[dot]co[dot]uk, T: +44 (0) 113 8150460.

International websites need at least 16 languages to be competitive online

A recent report by the Common Sense Advisory states that global companies need to have multilingual websites in order to compete on an international scale.

According to the report, an English-only site can be read by 23.2% of the global online population. Making it readable in simplified Chinese adds 22.3% and Spanish 9.0%. (more…)

New Translation App Released

A new app has recently been released called “Babelshot (photo translator)”. The clue is in the name – it is indeed an app that will translate the text that appears in a photo taken with your camera phone or that is manually typed into the app.

The app provides translation in 56 languages, from Afrikaans to Welsh to Korean to Slovak, so there aren’t too many countries in which you would be left stranded without help. Photos that the app can translate can vary from signs, to menus, to newspaper articles, and can be particularly useful when travelling abroad in a country where you don’t speak the language. In some cases, it may be vital that a sign can be understood: “no swimming”, “No entry” or the slightly more extreme “Do not enter, danger of death” are quite important!

This new app allows you to take a photo of a portion of text, send it using the app, and receive the translation. The only necessity, other than a desire to know what something means, is a connection to the internet.

The app uses Google Translate in order to provide an instantaneous response. Ah, Google Translate… once again, we return to the topic of machine translation and its reliability. Whilst a translation app for phones is no doubt a fantastic idea, given that you can easily carry your mobile with you wherever you go (and a lot of people already do), and they are, generally speaking, a lot smaller and lighter than a dictionary, can you rely on the translation you’re given?

At the time of writing, there are three users who are not enamoured with the new app: the first three reviews on the Babelshot app page on the Apple website are less than complementary. Reviewr100, for example, had problems using the app when taking a photo of white text on a dark background. A developer promised to fix the issue. However, the user had no more success with black text on a clean white page. Their final comment? “I guess this app may work if you only use it under pristine laboratory conditions and not in the real world.” Another reviewer was compelled to write a comment, despite never usually doing so, and comments that it just doesn’t work, plain and simple. The third review, I must admit, is my favourite. Rearend’s comment, with a title of “Horrible”, simply states: “Doesn’t work-waste of $-junk”.

Obviously being able to translate foreign texts, in whatever form, quickly and easily can be very useful when abroad. I have never used this app, and would be interested to hear any reviews, positive or negative, from those who have – is the Apple site‘s description correct? According to them: “Take a photo of a text, a sign, a book, a newspaper… and Photo Translate will recognize the text and translate it automatically to the language of your choice”? Or is it, as Rearend comments, a waste of money?

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