As most readers of this column will know, Skype enables you to keep in touch with friends and family anywhere in the world – for free. All you need is an Internet connection. It will even function with a relatively weak Internet connection employing a dongle and a cellphone network, such as many farmers are forced to use. With a slower connection, the video picture may not work properly, but the sound will still be audible, albeit with a slight time delay.
And using Skype without the video is hardly a problem – it is exactly the same as making an ordinary telephone call.
The app can be downloaded at skype. com or your app store.
Recently, Skype released its translator app. Intended for Windows 8, it closes the communication gap between individuals speaking different languages by transcribing what a person just said (or typed). At bit.ly/skyptrans, you can see how the app helps students from different parts of the world communicate in different languages.
Skype Translator performs instant translation of text chats in more than 40 languages, including English, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin via instant messaging (IM). IM enables you to create a kind of private chatroom with another individual in order to communicate directly over the Internet.
Steadily improving software
It has always been notoriously difficult to program machines to recognise words and phrases quickly and accurately. Skype Translator achieves its high level of accuracy using a technique known as ‘deep learning’. Simply put, as more people use the software, the more effective it should become at recognising idiosyncrasies of accent and cadence, making Skype Translator and Skype itself more useful.
However you look at it, this program is a major breakthrough as it enables users to communicate with those from other cultures. And better communication is certainly something we can do with in the world today.