You Can Download Skype Translator & It's The Technology So Many Have Been Dreaming Of
The future is now, and it's pretty amazing. In May 2014, communications app company Skype began early preview testing a fancy new upgrade to its product — a translation system — hoping to bring its video and audio chat software back into the current decade. On Tuesday, the company officially rolled out Skype Translator to the public, and frankly, it's the nerdy sci-fi upgrade that anyone who watched way too much Star Trek as a child has been dreaming of for years.
As Gizmodo first reported, it's pretty similar to the now-defunct Yahoo translation software Babel Fish, which was available for 38 separate languages — only Skype Translator is much, much better, it claims. Skype Translator is said to be much more refined and is available currently in 50 languages, including English, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin, with more being developed every day.
"Skype’s mission is to bring people together from all over the world, and with Skype Translator we are breaking down language barriers that have historically made it challenging for friends and families to connect," wrote the company in an official statement on Tuesday. "Our goal ... is to translate as many languages as possible on relevant platforms, and to deliver the best speech translation experience to our more than 300 million [users]."
The translator works simply enough: Once the translation option is turned on, the user can chat with any contact using their specified language in the address book profile (available in drop-down menu form). Once language selections have been made, the caller will be able to read a translated version of what their contact is saying in a sidebar chat window. If the program makes a mistake, you can tell it so (angrily, if you really want) and type in the correct word in the chat feed.
When it first debuted, Skype Translator suffered from some definite colloquial issues — Gizmodo reported horrific slang translation errors and local jargon errors as the most obvious problems. But if reaction to the new beta roll-out is any indication, it looks like the company has put in some serious time to fix those issues.
TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington reported on Tuesday that the limited release will hopefully work out any lingering issues and give Skype techs the ability to fine-tune the program, suggesting that a "wider beta launch should mean that it’s closer to being ready for prime time, and that it’s about to get smarter, faster thanks to a sizeable user-pool increase."
Already, the program is assisting users in a very specific (and pretty heartwarming) way. Pro Mujer, a New York-based nonprofit that participated in Skype's early translation preview last year, works to provide women in Latin America micro-loans that help grow or springboard their small businesses, offer healthcare services, and give them job-training to become financially independent. Using Skype Translator, the nonprofit was able to communicate back and forth between its local Latin America and U.S.-based teams, despite a definitive language barrier that would have slowed their progress otherwise.
"We've bonded more through it," said Director of Major Gifts Deborah Stern, in an interview with the company last year. "We're each speaking our own language. We have just been able to talk more fluidly. It's enabled us to become better friends."
Images: Skype (3)