announced the addition of Persian into their roster of supported languages in order to facilitate online communication within and from Iran.Yesterday, Google Translate
Now, at least one team - the minds behind BabelWith.me - has developed the functionality into a cool, useful chat application that capably (if not perfectly) translates chats in real time. The service enables simultaneous communication in up to 45 different languages. It's kind of like the U.N. of IM.
First of all, we applaud the developers for making the most drop-dead simple chat process we've seen in ages. Pick a username and a language, and go for it. To invite others to join, simply give them the short URL in the top right corner of the screen or invite participants directly from email, Twitter, or Facebook.
The chat dialog shows both the original text as well as the Google-powered translation. Granted, the translations aren't perfect; Google doesn't know how to deal with "pig latin" or "pommes frites." But it's manageable and functional, for the most part.
We tested it out and do wish the program had a timestamp feature and some kind of notification or alert. Unnoticed chats went ignored with nary a flash, blink, or beep until we came back to the window or tab containing the chat room. We did love that the program gave both the original text (in orange italics) underneath the translated version. And of course, all the static text in the chat is translated, as well.
We were also told by the BabelWith.me team, "The launch was moved up to offer free multilanguage communication with those in Iran." Check out this chat set up specifically for discussion of the Iran election and aftermath.
BabelWith.me is a product of the non-profit organization LifeChurch.tv.