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Read Chinese menus and signs with this app

Visually translate Chinese characters with Waygo


What is it An app to visually translate characters.
Use it for Reading menus and signs.
Best feature It’s offline.
Price Free, with in-app purchases.

This is exciting because it actually works. We don’t expect you to believe that for a minute just from reading this, but that’s fine because you’ll get more of a thrill if you download it. Even if you already read Chinese. (In fact, possibly more so as you can see it’s correct.)

It uses your phone camera to take a peek at the signs and wonders you see around you, but cannot understand. It instantly starts to translate them into remarkably sensible English. It jumps about with what it thinks characters are, but watch it and wait till it shows that it’s read them right. And no, characters don’t all look the same.

You can toggle your phone’s flash on and off to help the app pick out the characters and it can also look at photos you’ve already taken to try to translate them. Though we found it was better overall when you’re holding it up to signs, menus or computer screens.

Yes, there are others such as Google Translate which do similar things, but they need to send the data to be processed and we all know how much fun that can be here.

We can assure you that the initial addiction soon wears off and you can get on with your life again. Also, you may find you’re happier not understanding a lot of signs, unless you like being accompanied by someone paranoid about safety.

The app also works its magic on Japanese and Korean, though we had most success with Chinese. It will let you do up to ten translations a day for free, then an in-app purchase of around 15RMB gives you a week of unimpeded scanning or around 50RMB lets you do it for ever and ever. Amen.


  • 4 out of 5 stars
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