Since iOS 8, it has been possible to use third-party tools such as Bing Translator and Microsoft Translator to translate web pages in foreign languages in Safari into your primary language. In iOS 14, there is now a better way to do it.
Previously, third-party translation services would create Safari extensions, which made it possible to convert languages on almost any foreign site. For example, after installing the service’s main app and activating the Safari extension, if you came across a web page written in Spanish, you can open the sharing sheet, tap the service extension in the list of actions, and then see the text turn into English.
Fast forward about six years, and Apple now has its own translation tool for Safari. It is much easier to access and manage and it does not rely on supplements in the stock sheet. You can still use third-party extensions to translate foreign text if you want, and this may be necessary if Apple does not support your primary language.
Apple̵7;s “Translate” service, which has its own iOS app for off-Safari translations, is very new, so the number of supported language pairs is small. These include any combination of English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, French, German, Russian and Brazilian Portuguese. In addition, the feature is only available in the US and Canada at this time. As the translation function improves, more languages and support countries will be added, and the number of compatible web pages will increase. But for now, it’s good enough if you use one of the mentioned languages.
Translate a Web Page in Safari
There are some ways you can translate text on a Safari web page from one language to another. Option 1 uses the Safari Web site menu, while Option 2 uses the Safari translation icon, which only appears for one second.
Option 1: Via Safari’s web menu
In Safari, visit a webpage that you want to translate, and then click the “AA” button in the Smart Search bar to reveal a menu that includes tools such as browser view, request desktop site, and site settings. New for iOS 14 is “Translate”.
Depending on the context, you can see different options appear on the menu. For example, we use English as the primary language.
- Translate to English: This is displayed if the web page you are on is in a language that is included as a secondary in your Settings app. You will also see this if you have not selected any secondary languages in Settings.
- Translate Website: This is shown if the web page you are on is in a language that is not in either your primary or secondary languages set on your iPhone in Settings. This does not apply if you have not selected any secondary languages at all in Settings.
- Translate to [OtherLanguage]: This is displayed if the web page you are on is your primary language. It can be said Spanish, Simplified Chinese, French, German, Russian or Brazilian Portuguese. Regardless of which secondary language is supported in Settings, English immediately follows in the desired order displayed. (You can rearrange them, but more on that later.) This label does not apply if you have not selected any secondary languages in Settings.
- Nothing: If you do not see a translation option, you are on an English language website and you have no secondary languages selected at all in Settings.
If you get the “Translate Website” option and click on it, an action sheet will appear at the bottom. In it you see your primary language and any secondary language (if you have something installed) in your desired list in Settings. Since iOS 14 is not ready for prime time yet, the languages it displays may be a bit buggy.
Option 2: Via Safari’s Translate Icon
When you land on a webpage that is in any of the supported languages other than your primary, the address bar quickly says “Translation Available” with a translation icon to the left where the “AA” button is normally located. It only appears one second after the page is fully loaded, but if you are fast enough, you can press that button.
If you have several languages supported in Settings, when you press the translation key, the action sheet will appear where you can choose which language you want to convert to. If you do not have any other supported languages besides the primary language, it only converts to the primary language.
Continues with the translation
When you click on a translation option, no matter which option you used above, you will see a pop-up asking if you want to enable translation – if this is your first time using the feature.
According to Apple, “the address and content of this website will be sent to Apple to process the translation”, but it is also mentioned that the content is not stored or retained by Apple. If you press “Read more”, you can read more about the function and how it works. Click “Enable translation” from the pop-up window or from website Translation information screen to translate the web page into the other language.
Once you have activated the translation for the first time, you can simply use option 1 or option 2 above to translate without the pop-up window appearing any longer. When you look at a translation, the “AA” button remains as the translation button so that you know it has been translated.
The more you use the feature, the better it will work in Safari. If you tend to translate web pages on a particular site, you can see that they automatically translate in the future so you do not have to do it manually.
2. Display of the original language again
To translate an already translated web page back to its original language, simply press the translate button in the Smart Search field, then press “View Original.”
Add more preferred languages to translate to
If the “Translate Website” option appears, you can choose from one or more language options, but only if they are added as a preferred language. To add secondary languages, click on the “Translate Website” option and select “Preferred Languages.” Alternatively, you can go to Settings -> General -> Language and region.
Then you will see all your languages that you prefer if you have any set. Click “Add Language” at the end of Preferred language order list. If you do not have that section, press “Other languages” at the top.
Then select one of the supported languages. When you do, iOS will ask you if you want to change your main language to the new one or keep the current language but add the new language as a preferred language. Click on “Keep English”, and the phone will start quickly if you want to save the change.
Once your device has restarted, you will see the newly added language in the list of your desired languages. You can then arrange the language to the desired order, and that order will be as it appears in Safari. Go back to Safari and when you tap “Translate Website”, the action sheet should have your other languages listed.
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