When iOS 14 came out, Apple released Translate, an app for translating speech and text between different languages (even within Safari). Unfortunately, it is not as comprehensive as some third-party apps or even Siri. That’s why Apple uses Microsoft’s translation services within Shortcuts. It may sound surprising, but we’re not complaining because you can do some pretty awesome things with it.
One of those things is that you can send translated messages more easily on your iPhone. A pre-made shortcut called “Dictate Translation to Text Message” transcribes everything you say and then has it translated into another language. Once interpreted, the message will be copied to your clipboard. Then all you have to do is paste it into the messaging or social media app of your choice and send or post.
Using the Back Tap accessibility feature, you can even run the shortcut anywhere on your device, so you don̵
The shortcut we are using today is optimized for iOS 14. We tried on iOS 13 and it got errors so you want iOS 14. Plus, if you want to use the Tap back action to trigger the shortcut more easily, you have still need iOS 14. (Back Tap requires an iPhone 8 or later.)
You also need the Shortcuts app. If you removed it for some reason, you can reinstall it for free from the App Store. Otherwise, make sure you have enabled “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts” in Settings -> Shortcuts, otherwise you will not be able to install the shortcut.
Step 1: Add the shortcut
You can access the pre-made “Dictate Translation to Text Message” shortcut, from RoutineHub user makeitwork, using the direct link below. Alternatively, you can download the shortcut from the dedicated RoutineHub page to make sure you are using the latest version. Currently, the shortcut is on version 1.0, released on December 14th.
If you are not immediately redirected to the Shortcuts app, tap “Get Shortcut”. You can then view the shortcut’s actions and add it to your library by scrolling to the bottom of the preview and tapping “Add untrusted shortcut.”
Step 2: Configure the shortcut
Before adding the shortcut to the library, you must configure it. The first page explains how the shortcut works, but we’ll explain that in more detail in the next step, so you can tap “Continue” to continue.
On the next page you can change the default language you are translating from, which is English (United States). To change it, tap the language and choose from dozens of others, including Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Chinese, French, German and Hindi. Press “Done” when you are done.
Step 3: Add the shortcut to Tap Back
Before we run the shortcut, you should have a way to do it easily without leaving whatever app you are in, be it Messages, WhatsApp or Facebook. You can run it with AssistiveTouch, but it’s better to use Back Tap, which allows you to run any shortcut by tapping the back of your iPhone.
Launch Settings and go to Accessibility -> Touch -> Back Tap. Now choose “Double tap” or “Triple tap” and select the shortcut “Dictate translation to text message” from the list. The shortcut can now be activated from anywhere by tapping the back of your iPhone twice or three times.
Step 4: Use speech to text to translate
Now you can use “Dictate Translation to Text Message” to speak in your language and translate it into a written text in another language. In the app of your choice, tap (two or three times) on the back of your iPhone to run the shortcut. The first time you do this, you’ll be prompted to allow the shortcut to access speech recognition (an accessibility feature) and your microphone. Tap “OK” for both requests to continue.
When the text box appears, you can start speaking. However, before you start with the sentence you want to translate, say the name of the language you want to translate to (there are nearly 80 languages to choose from). In the example below, you can see the word “Polish” before starting my sentence. After saying the language name, pronounce the words you want to translate.
Stop speaking or tap the red stop button to translate your words. After a few seconds, the shortcut will translate the text, read it to you and copy the translated message to your clipboard. From there, all you have to do is press your finger in an available text box, hit “Paste” and then upload or send it.
Unfortunately, there is no way to translate the messages you receive with this shortcut, but you can search for others in the shortcuts app or online. You can even create your own shortcut to translate messages you receive, or you can always use an unlimited number of third-party translation services such as Google Translate. You can even reuse Back Tap to run a different shortcut or open an app like Google Translate.
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