There are three buttons. The power button does what you’d expect. You hold the big one on the front to have ili listen and automatically translate. Tapping it again will repeat the phrase it just spoke. The third button repeats back what it thinks you said, in ili’s voice. If you hold down that last button it switches between the ili's 3 languages: Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin.
It's important to keep in mind there’s no such thing as “real time translation” yet, despite what Google says. We’re still not quite there for the Star Trek-style Universal Translator that just speaks in your language while someone else is speaking. Right now it’s sentence (pause) by sentence (pause), give or take a few sentences. No translator is meant to tell your life story. Mostly it’s for asking for the bathroom. The ili does that, and a lot more. It's positioned as travel-centric, but I threw a lot of random phrases its way and it did pretty well. Maybe it can't translate random medical conditions, but just about anything a traveler would need should be covered.
I do wish it did more. The company is very pro one-way translation. Their arguments are valid, but I still think it’d be useful for the other person to be understood as well. It’d be easy enough to say, and have ili translate “press the button and say small sentences,” or something similar, to get the person understand how to use it and to keep it simple. This isn’t as huge of a complaint as it might seem, though, since like I said above, it’s remarkable what one can accomplish with hand gestures. So many travel interactions require simple, easily-understood responses, that getting yourself understood is way more than 50% of any interaction.
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I’m split on the ili in two ways. I travel a lot. For the last 3+ years I’ve spent extended time in over 30 countries across 5 continents. In all that time I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve needed any translator. While Mandarin is the most-spoken first language in the world (Spanish being second), English is by far the most prevalent second language. It’s essentially the lingua franca of the world, especially in touristy places. In the times during my travels there was no common language between me and someone, a big smile and hand gestures worked wonders. https://www.inwhatlanguage.com/video-translation-its-easier-than-you-think/