Language and Culture Apps for iPad

Category: Software Translation, Technology

The Apple iPad is here. On launch day April 3, 2010, consumers bought a reported 300,000 of these color, touch-screen tablets. It’s still to be determined if it will revolutionize how people read a newspaper or watch a film — but what I really want to know is if it can teach you French.

One of the hypes about the iPad was all the apps that were going to be created for it — mobile apps on steroids. Productivity! Lifestyle! Light saber duels! Nearly 4,000 iPad apps and counting….

Ten days post-launch, it seems that language and culture apps haven’t really made the first round of iPad app hype. This makes sense, as I can’t imagine early iPad adopters buying a $30 dictionary before buying a $1.99 game with leaping frogs.

Plus, language dictionaries are usually not very visual. (But they should be — see how many French words you’ll learn in this short video from Flight of the Conchords.) A non-visual iPad app doesn’t get press reviews. That said, I challenge any app designer to come up with a language dictionary as visually arresting as the previously drab, but now spectacularly stunning, periodic table: The Elements: a Visual Exploration.

So what language and culture apps were designed for the iPad? You can check out the Apple website or to get a sense of what’s out there for us language, travel and culture nerds:

  • Hello-Hello Spanish
  • All About French
  • Country Quiz XL
  • German TalkPad
  • Country Maps Quiz
  • All Countries XL
  • World Atlas HD
  • All About Japanese
  • Street Maps (Venice, Hanoi, Chicago, etc)
  • Chinese Zither
  • Didgeridoo
  • Eastern Lute
  • Creole Cooking HD
  • Majong

Not a whole lot, but a good start — the basic languages, plus some games and practical travel items. And there’s more being introduced every hour. We can only hope that this category takes off, just like with the iPhone, which has thousands of apps and counting in this area.

In no time, I think the motto will be: Have iPad, will be global!