They are going to remove language barriers forever. Or so it has been claimed.
Google recently released a real-time translator, while Microsoft-owned Skype is beta-testing its own.
Both firms make grand claims about their services, while other smaller rivals offer alternatives, but the question remains: do they actually work?
I took a selection of apps to Bilbao in the Spanish Basque Country to find out, testing them by completing tasks set for me by colleagues on the BBC’s tech desk.
The first job was to find the northern city’s Guggenheim museum and ask what was its most valuable work of art.
Getting to the museum was not a challenge; another Google app saw to that. The problem was getting my question across.