Speak any language using a universal translator on your Android phone. Step by step guide to automatically translate anything you type on the fly.

Star Trek is full of fascinating and futuristic technologies and one of the most useful is the Universal Translator. This enabled Kirk to speak any language. It’s here on your phone!

The universal translator is not simply science fiction anymore and the technology is real. You can speak in one language and have it translated on the fly into another one.

It is a brilliant feature for your phone that makes it incredibly easy to speak to people that use a different language to your own. You can simply say what you want in English, or whatever language you prefer to use, and the result appears in the language the other person uses.

This could be used when writing emails or sending messages to people that speak different languages or that live in different countries where your language is not their language.

You could use the feature when traveling abroad where you are not familiar with the local lingo. Just say what you want in English and have it instantly translated into the local language. You can then show people exactly what you want to say.

Install Gboard on your phone

How do you turn your phone into a universal translator? With Google Gboard, the alternative keyboard for Android and iOS phones. I recently showed how Gboard can be used to insert animated GIFs into emails and messages. That article contains setup instructions and it is very easy.

Now I will show how it can translate what you type into a foreign language.

I will be using a Samsung Galaxy S6 Android phone for this, but Gboard keyboard is also available for the iPhone too. Try it on iOS.

Create an email

The Gboard keyboard is a free app in the Google Play Store that replaces the phone’s built in keyboard and so it can be used anywhere you need to enter text. I will be writing an email in a foreign language, but you could use the same feature in any app that requires text input.

Open your email app, such as Gmail, and create a new message. Set the To and enter the subject.

When you are ready to type the content of the email, press the G button in the top left corner of the Gboard keyboard.

A toolbar appears and the second icon is used to access the universal translator function. Press the button.

 Compose an email in Gmail on an Android phone Access Gboard functions on an Android phone


Select the language

Captain Kirk didn’t have to select the language he wanted to use and his universal translator just worked. However, this one does not know what language you want to speak in and it must be selected.

Press the language button on the right.

Select the language you want to use. There are dozens to choose from and recently used ones appear at the top of the list. Tap a language.

 The translation function using Gboard on Android The translation function using Gboard on Android


Type and translate

It is now all set up and whatever you type is automatically translated to your selected language and inserted into the email or whatever app you are using.

Type Hello and what appears in the email is Bonjour, for example.

Gboard translates your text into the foreign language as you type and enters it into the app, Gmail in this case, but it could be any. It is an amazing feature.

Keep on typing and just say whatever you want to say. The foreign language translation appears in the email.

Take a look below at the screenshot on the right. I typed I will be visiting Paris in June, what was instantly entered into the email was Je vais visiter Paris en Juin.

Press the green tick in the bottom right corner when you have finished and press the left arrow button to return to normal typing mode. You need to do this to enter a new paragraph.

 The translation function using Gboard on An Android phone The translation function using Gboard on An Android phone

This is one of the cleverest features of Gboard. How would you do this without Gboard? You would have to go to a translation service on the web, enter the text, translate it, copy the translated text, open your email app and paste it in.

Gboard simplifies all that and you just type your email in English as you normally would.

Do you speak a foreign language? Can you try this and tell us how good the translation is in the comments below? Thanks.