Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Naver Translator app "papago" (네이버 파파고) screenshots and review


Naver has released their own real-time Korean translation app "papago", which is visually similar to Google Translate but has better Korean visual recognition. This will likely be very handy for visitors to the upcoming PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, or just any tourists visiting Korea, or even newbie English teachers who can't figure out how to turn on their hot water.

The app currently translates between Korean and Japanese, Chinese, and English. I've got to say, I have been impressed after using it for a few days. It is very minimalist, simplistic, includes full English menus, and is lightweight and responsive. If you're one of those "Naver sucks" types, give this app a chance for yourself. It really won me over. Let's take a look.

Naver papago (네이버 파파고)

Naver "papago" Official Features Post


Let's start with the official features. I was reading through a Naver Post about the app, and thought the information there might be good for everybody. So I'll run through the features that that post highlights real quick.


1:1 Conversation Mode

Split the screen for a conversation mode where each person can take turns talking and it will translate their speech on the fly. Google Translate also has this feature.



Image Translation (OCR)

Take a photo and papago can pull out the text (after you highlight it with your finger) and translate it. Google has this feature too, but it's pretty terrible at recognizing Korean text. papago works much better at this. Scroll way down for a real life example I did.


Word Sense Disambiguation

This is pretty cool. To help prevent mis-translations, it will ask you to verify certain words that might have more than one meaning. For example, in the picture below, the Korean word 차 was interpreted as "car" but it could also mean "tea."
If a word could have multiple translations, the word will appear underlined and green in the resulting translation. Click it and pictures of the possible meanings will come up. Very handy if you have no idea what the person is saying and they could see the images and tap correctly for you.


Currency conversion

If your translation result includes a price, it too will appear green and underlined. Click it to get that amount converted, with the current rates from KEB Hana Bank.


Phrase Book

The app comes with a built-in phrase book, with a wide variety of important and useful set phrases. Choose from catagories like shopping, food, buses, etc. These are built into the app, so they do not require a data connection and work fine offline.


Favorites and Hashtags

Like with Google Translate, you can add your own specific things to the Phrase Book. Sort of. You can "star" specific translations to add them to your favorites list. Then if you want to get intense, you can then go to your Favorites List (located under the "History" menu for some reason) and assign hashtags (up to 3) to each Favorite. This will collect the favorites into groups under those Hashtags. So for example you could add hashtag #triptoUSA to the translation for "Please, don't shoot!" or #bestblogs to "I love 10원Tips" etc.


Push-to-talk

I was impressed with the quality of this feature. Just as it says, you push, you talk, it translates in real time as you speak, updating and correcting the translation while you talk.












My own comparisons of "papago"

That was all official stuff. Now I'll add some of my own details to fill in the blanks.

Basic translating 

Overall, not bad when it comes to basic translating. See for yourself how it compares with Google Translator in a quick test:

Translation in Naver papago

Translation in Google Translate

I have to give this point to Google, for two reasons:
  • Papago suddenly went from formal to very informal speech. Why? Google played it safe and stuck with polite speech the whole way.
  • "Thanks for visiting" makes much more sense in Google's translation than Papago's. 

Camera OCR translations


To test the image translation feature I wrote out by hand 안녕하세요 샘입니다 오늘 날씨가 너무 더워요 (Hello, this is Sam. Today's weather is too hot) on a piece of paper and used the camera functions of both apps.

papago's visual translation

Google's visual translation

Please excuse my crappy handwriting, but papago seems to have identified it more clearly.

Other screenshots


papago menu

papago settings menu


papago's Android app permissions page

Final Thoughts

I was impressed by the quality of the app and its easy simplicity. Anybody could use it, no matter how limited your Korean, and you'll find it useful and reliable. It could be a real competitor to Google. I'm glad Naver has been moving in this English-friendly direction lately with Line, Band, and V app, for example. Like I've always said, I think Naver's only real handicap in competing against Google is its Korean-language exclusivity, which it's slowly working on eroding.

By the way, it's called "papago" because that means parrot (a creature that talks and repeats) in Esperanto. Well I'll be. Still hate the name.

Read more about it here in Korean:
한영일중 통역이 필요한 순간! 네이버 파파고(papago) : 네이버 포스트
or here in English:
Naver launches new translation app Papago [Korea Herald]

Download papago







This post took way too long to make. Really regretting wasting this much time on it now. 

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