Review: Clownfish for Skype translates as you type

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Clownfish for Skype

    PCWorld Rating

    This Skype add-on can translate chat on the fly and read messages aloud to you.

Not everyone in the world speaks the same language, so what do you do when you meet someone on Skype whose native language is not l'Anglais? Simple. Use the free Clownfish for Skype add-on.

Clownfish is a translator that integrates itself into Skype and instantly translates every chat message said between you and the other person. The speed is admirable, but the accuracy less so. When I tested it with my wife, who is German, she told me the German translations were not that great.

This exposes the limited usefulness of online translators in general. Machines can only understand so much, and they don't really do context. It's not bad for getting the gist of some marketing copy, but don't depend upon it to translate those rocket science manuals or bomb defusion instructions.

Clownfish also provides other features such as text-to-speech—which was surprisingly good—their own basic message encryption (which doesn't meet any stated encryption standard, so don't use it for anything too sensitive), and the ability to send a message to everyone in your Skype list at the same time (which might be perceived as a bit spammy, so use your judgement). Other features, such as emoticons and a voice changer, are a bit silly. Clownfish's main purpose is its backbone translation function. Everything else is just bells and whistles.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This Skype add-on can translate chat on the fly and read messages aloud to you.

    Pros

    • Translates instantly
    • Excellent text-to-speech feature

    Cons

    • You'll need to take translations with a grain of salt
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