It's always good news when companies go the extra mile to make their apps and services more inclusive. The most recent example of this is Instagram, which recently rolled out object identification for photos to help visually impaired users more efficiently use the app.
Now, Skype is following suit by incorporating automatic captions and live subtitling during video calls, which will greatly help users who are deaf or hard of hearing. The news follows an earlier announcement that PowerPoint is also getting real-time captions and subtitles. Both these features will rely on the company's artificial intelligence technology.
How To Turn On Captions And Subtitles In Skype
To use Skype's live captioning features, simply press the "more" or "+" button during a video call and toggle the subtitles on. Those who don't want to manually switch it on for every individual video call can opt to have it on by default, instead.
"Today, Skype joins the world in celebrating the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities with the launch of call captioning with live captions & subtitles," the company writes in a blog post.
"Skype has been hard at work at making our features more inclusive, and live captions & subtitles are just one way we made Skype calls more accessible."
Live captions and subtitles will auto-scroll during a call. Eventually, however, users will be able to navigate through captions in a side window suppose they don't want to see words overlaid during the call. Skype says live captions and subtitles are optimized to be fast, continuous, and contextually updated as people speak.
The feature is now available on version eight of Skype on Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, and Windows 10, although expect the rollout across these platforms to be delayed a bit.
Aside from live captions, there's one other feature Skype plans to roll out in the coming weeks. Soon, translations that support over 20 languages will help any Skype user be up to speed with their friend, partner, or colleague. Using it is as simple as live captions, too — just turn them on through a simple toggle. This will allow the user to read subtitles in the language of their choosing.
These new features show Skype's and parent company Microsoft's commitment to inclusivity, a quality Silicon Valley seems to lack severely. Google, Apple, Facebook, and a few others have gone the extra mile to roll out features that aid users with different impairments, and hopefully the rest follow suit.