KakaoTalk gets in-app messages translation feature

Kakao Talk finally has a built-in way to translate your messages. No more copy/pasting messages between KakaoTalk and Google Translate or Papago to pretend like your Korean understanding is better than it really is. I haven't seen any news (either English or Korean) about this feature's release yet, so I'll do a quick summary here with screenshots.


UPDATE March 2023

The feature has apparently been removed. In a recent KakaoTalk update, the dev notes indicate that Kakao Lab is being "reorganized" during which time it seems the ability to activate the feature is gone. A user commenting on this update news is clearly not happy that this translation feature is gone and wants it back:

Hopefully we'll see it return soon. 



It's back in the new Kakao Lab settings, but currently only on iOS still. Sorry, Android fans. Hopefully you'll get it soon.

KakaoTalk translation setting in KakaoLabs on iOS


Based on a recent Reddit post, it looks like it's back for Android too. 

KakaoTalk translation activation in KakaoTalk on Android


Original post continues below.

Now when your chat partner sends you a message in Korean, just long-press on the message bubble to get the usual menu, but now a "Translate" option is present. Tap it and you will be shown the translation provided by Kakao's own translation service Kakao i (which you can also use on the web as a standalone translator if you prefer). 

For example, here's a group chat where a Korean friend wished us a happy new year, but of course in Korean. Maybe I don't actually know any Korean. Can I understand him? Yes. Long press on the message bubble, then tap Translation. 

The translation is revealed in a pop-up drawer. Looks good.

There is a large variety of languages you can use for this. Here's a partial list:

If for some reason you don't see the option for Translation available, make sure you have it turned on. Right now this is only available on iOS as a "beta" feature so it's under the Kakao Lab settings, as shown below:

Hopefully an Android version will be released soon.

This is a nice addition, being right inside KakaoTalk itself and not needing another ap. But there are two obvious issues still:
  1. You have to translate every single message manually. So far there is no "global" translation feature. If that were available, I can imagine a lot more foreign (international) users would use Kakao Talk to chat with their dream oppas. 

  2. This only translates incoming messages. You'd have to know how to type Korean (or use a second app) to respond in Korean. There are keyboard apps that can do this for you (Naver Smartboard for example). But I'm sure Kakao would get more international traction if this were built-in. 
I think most users prefer the convenience of auto-translations over the actual work of, you know, learning Korean. So if Kakao incorporates my suggestions, it could go a long way to increased international usage.