Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kindlefish - No Muss Translations for the Amazon Kindle

One of the best features of the Amazon Kindle is the ability to access the internet virtually anywhere for free. Since there is no touchscreen, the interface can be a bit difficult at times, but for simple errands like checking your email, reading up on something on wikipedia, or sending a text message with google voice it's great. For example, I step off the plane, switch on my Kindle and a few moments later I can send a SMS saying that I got there safely. It doesn't cost me a thing and it just works.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Kindlefish is back with a whole new look! Please read more about it here.

However, one thing that hit me the other day is that I should be able to use Google Translate on the Kindle to help me out in situations where I need to communicate a message, but there's a language barrier. The standard Google Translate page doesn't work for the Kindle and the mobile Google Translate page returns text that is too small to be easily read, and a little clunky for use on the Kindle.

So I fixed it. I present to you: Kindlefish!

Details and a walkthrough after the break!

This is the main page. I've set up three language options, which can be remembered for later to let you skip hunting for a language through the menus. Simply click the radio button you want, type in a message, and hit go!

Big text makes it easy for anyone to read. No squinting or having to point to small text on the screen to get your message across.

Asian languages and languages with non-Latin alphabets show up beautifully, but only if you're using the 3G. Sorry K1, K2, and DX users!

One note on accuracy: This is Google Translate, and it does a pretty good job, but there are times when things don't come across 100% right. In this case, the right phrase would have been "Går denna spårvagn till biblioteket?", but in this case Google picked up on "does" as the main verb and missed some grammar. As it stands, it reads, "Do this bus goes to the library?". In practice, that should be close enough for people to understand what you want and help you.

But, how about the other way? Let's change this to Swedish, and try some phrases:

 "OBS! Danger!" would be a better translation. Fortunately, these signs usually come with a symbol too.

This time it was right on, even without the ability to enter umlauts. The input text should have been "smörgåsar" (which is the root of "smorgasbord", by the way), but Google translate did a decent enough job figuring out what was missed. As a US centric device, the Kindle does not do a lot to support input of foreign languages so non-English to English is likely to be dicey.

In the end, I'm happy with it and it will certainly help with my upcoming trips! I hope that it helps you too!

UPDATE: New Kindles are on the wayCheck out the preview here!

And where does it work? Just about anywhere:

Kindlefish has been featured on Wired's Gadgetlab, Booksprung, and Business Insider! Big Thanks!

If you have a K1, K2, or DX, please read this post here for more information: Link


  1. Is it okay if i trim one of the pictures so it fits better on my blog? I promise to give you credit.

  2. Sure thing! Thanks for asking.

  3. Your link is dead.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. hi, I saw information about KINDLEFISH from, and wanna tell you GOOD JOB!!!!!!! I love this ^^~

  6. @Anon: The host seemed to hiccup the other day, but it seems that they moved it to a better server so hopefully the link should work. Works right now but sorry you had trouble.

    @hughlin:Thanks! I'm working on shoring up support for the DX and K2 right now, since the browser there doesn't parse the javascript the same way as the latest gen. After that I'll start working on some other things I have in mind

  7. Hey, this is great!
    Do you think you could add support for Traditional Chinese (zh-TW)? The Chinese option only displays Simplified Chinese.

    Thanks :D

  8. You got it. Traditional Chinese is now included in the list. :)

  9. Sawasdee ka!!

    I come to visit naka ^^