There's a reason MyLanguage Pro ($4.99; itunes.apple.com) is one of the top-grossing travel apps in the iTunes store. With the potential to translate 55 languages—Macedonian, Swahili, Malay, and Yiddish are a few of the latest—you can use this one app almost anywhere in the world. There are also regional dialect options, so instead of trying to speak Castilian Spanish in Cuernavaca, you can pass for a native with the "Mexican Spanish" option. Also, unlike other apps that can be way off base in their overtly literal translations, there's a constant feedback loop in the form of a community-approved translation rating system. It's constantly commented upon by the community of users, then upgraded by the translation experts at MyLanguage, so you don't wind up sounding like an idiot, which I hope doesn't happen in my upcoming dogsledding trip to Sweden. Thanks to MyLanguage Pro I've mastered my most important line: "Var kan jag hitta min bortsprungna hundar?" (Translation: Have you seen my runaway dogs?") I tend to go a little overboard on culture and history—just ask anyone I happen to be traveling with while reporting stories—which is why I like A&E's handy app "History Here" ($3; marketplace.windowsphone.com) for Windows 7 platforms. It provides GPS locations with historical content to give you a mobile history lesson on more than 7,000 locations. Produced by "History" (formerly known as the History Channel), you're not getting just a sound-byte synopsis—the app provides video, audio of famous speeches, maps, photos, and content that rivals any docent's knowledge of museums and famous sites. The only downside is that currently most of the sites are in information-rich U.S. areas, like D.C., so if you're looking for, say, the World Heritage Site of Viejo Leon in Nicaragua, you might not find it on here.
MyLanguage Pro App