App Review: Image It

“Image It” is an interesting application that claims to ‘break the language barrier’ using images. It is an interesting concept I have to agree; recently on a trip to Brussels I took a taxi from my company office to the Eurostar station, well tried to. Even the word ‘Eurostar’ didn’t seem to register with the driver let alone all my attempts to describe a train station with my hands or various choo-choo noises. I had a brain wave and pulled out my iPad to draw a picture of a train. It was at this moment I also realised I couldn’t draw to save my life. We did eventually manage to get moving when I tried ‘Bahnhof’ in the hope he spoke a little German.

So this is where “Image It” would have come in handy, the ability to select from a large menu of different icon type pictures would have been a whole host quicker. The app itself is very simple to use with various categories and a search function for specific words. I did find overall the interface was a little clunky though and lacked consistency, the back arrow was sometimes top left and sometimes bottom left for example.

I like the fact you can annotate the images with your own text and even draw your own if you’re feeling creative. I think with regular use you would find it easier to navigate through the commonly required items and you can save your images into a set of three which you present to your taxi driver / foreign person and swipe through the ‘phrase’. 

I searched for ‘money’ and ‘pay’ with no results though and eventually browsing the index I came up with ‘coins’, so some common words are lacking. Also worth noting that sometimes you had to be quite precise with the drag and drop of the images into the bottom section for your ‘phrase’ and sometimes I would find that as I was dragging the image would run back to where I was trying to drag it from.

Maybe in the future this kind of app could contain the actual words for the item in various languages, so you could learn for future reference.

Overall I think the idea is potentially beneficial to regular travellers that may find themselves in a tight spot, with an iPad and lacking any of their own artistic ability. The app could so with a bit of polishing though to make the experience a bit smoother, the text entry field is in French!

It’s available for iOS (although not native iPad) and Android at the 60p mark so it could be a cheap backup to a phrase book.