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Introducing Mantaphrase

October 09, 2012

Today we’re proud to launch Mantaphrase. Mantaphrase is an app for your iPhone and iPod Touch that makes communication in a foreign language easy. Using this app, you can communicate a phrase and get an answer without needing to know how to pronounce or understand the foreign language. It’s available on the App Store starting today.


We started this project because the current solutions for communication in another language simply don’t work. Patrick came back from a 9 month exchange from Japan, at first not knowing the language. He couldn’t use Google Translate because he didn’t have an internet connection. Native Japanese speakers talk too fast for speech to speech applications to pick up accurately, not to mention awkward to put a phone near someone’s mouth like a microphone. Phrasebook applications tend to be lists of vocabulary and phrases which is nice for learning, but not communicating. These were all dealbreakers.

We made Mantaphrase to really solve the problem of communication over a language barrier: addressing the interaction between two people.

How does it work?

The best way to communicate to someone in a foreign language is with large, readable text. Let’s say you are shopping for clothing in China, but the employee doesn’t speak English. You simply take out your phone, open the app, and find phrase you have in mind from our large list of common phrases. Then, you show your phone to the employee, who then can read and respond in their own native language.


Communication doesn’t work if the other person can’t respond back to you. Mantaphrase’s first key feature is that it can create a conversation by letting the other person respond in their own native language interface using buttons and gestures. This means that people speaking different languages can have a real two-way conversation.

Follow-Up Phrases

When you ask a question, you probably will want to ask another related question. Mantaphrase gives you smart suggestions on what you might want to say next so that you can seamlessly continue your conversation. You don’t want to keep someone waiting while you fumble with trying to type out text on your phone.

How do I get it?

Mantaphrase is free and available on the App Store for your iPhone or iPod Touch. We currently support English, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), and Japanese. You can try the app for free, and then purchase a language to gain access to all of the phrases in that particular language.

Discuss on Hacker News.

Wen-Hao Lue
Engineering, Interaction, Design. @wlue

Patrick Tardif
Data Hacker, Business, Marketing. @pltardif

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