App Reviews: Translate, Shadowmatic


Google this month released a major update to its Translate app with a super-nifty function that lets you translate signs by simply pointing your phone camera at them. The feature works when translating basic text between English and Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian, Italian and German. So if you’re traveling and need to know exactly what that street sign says, this should be a great feature for you. Sometimes the camera has trouble finding words — particularly if you aren’t holding it steady — but it’s not bad for a free app.

The company also added a feature that translates conversation more quickly. Users can pick two languages to translate between, and the app will automatically decipher which language is being spoken at the time. The spoken translation feature requires a data connection; the text translation does not. Free, for Android and iOS devices.


This game requires you to look at things a little differently. Shadowmatic, as the title indicates, lets players head back to the nursery and explore the many facets of shadow puppets. Remember being young and convinced that the shadow of the tree outside was a monster? It’s the same idea, though far less scary.

Players are presented with one or more (pretty wonky-looking) objects at the start of each round. You are asked to adjust their angle to cast the shadow of a familiar shape on the wall. In the tutorial, for example, you have to spin a piece of wood to cast the shadow of a rabbit.

The app is a little pricey at $3, which may be steep for a lot of folks just looking for a quick way to pass the time. But if you like indie mobile games and are willing to shell out a little more to support them, give this one a try. $2.99, for iOS devices