Converse by Riot icon

Converse ($4.99) by Riot converts text from one language to another.

The app uses an Internet connection to translate between: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portugese, and Dutch. The interface is about as simple as it gets. After the loading screen there is a single screen with two keyboards, each having a screen.

Select a language for each side. Typing a message on one side will translate it into the other side’s language. The field allows 60 characters for translation.

The ideal situation for using this app would be two monolingual people sitting across from each other at a table, with the iPad between them.

Converse by Riot screenshot

Life, however, is far from ideal, and the opportunities for using this app seem limited.

A better setup that I can see would be for those trying to learn a new language. The app could be a way to look up words or phrases in the other language, or as a quiz.

Added to the limited usefulness is the lack of user-friendliness.

Since the screen remains in portrait mode, the keyboards for both sides are smaller than if they were in landscape. A bluetooth keyboard isn’t a workaround, either.

Perhaps the biggest keyboard issue, though, is the functionality of the shift button. Don’t get me wrong, you can capitalize or select different punctuation; you just have to hold down the key each time you do it.

Obviously, physical keyboards require the shift button to be held, but this is iOS. Having the shift arrow turn blue is expected. At least you can hold down a letter to see variations for it.

This app could use some additional features, such as keeping a transcript, cut and paste functionality, and allowing for more than 60 characters. Oh, and a proper iOS shift key would be nice, too.