No matter how many people listen, things are much better the fewer people there are talking. Waverly says it himself. Some of the most notable use cases, according to the company, are multilingual shareholder meetings that allow analysts to listen to comments from executives in their native language, and religious services that can be delivered to a multilingual congregation . In both cases, most of what is said comes from one person. The forum can also be effective for global teams that meet regularly via video chat, if the teams are small and have some level of familiarity with each other. It can also help make pregnancy breaks a little less awkward.
The quality of the interpretation depends heavily on the clarity of the speaker, as with most voice translations. The more silent someone is, the less coherent the translation will be. Forum also made some strange choices with some of its translations in my testing. One commenter referred to “one-on-one” meetings and Forum curiously translated that as “12:59.” Most of the time, though, I was at least able to get a clear idea of what was being said. The forum is not perfect, but it is more than sufficient.
However, Forum is definitely not cheap. The app requires a monthly subscription (no long-term commitment) with several different tiers available, each offering a different total number of minutes and total number of participants in a session. For $25, you obtain 3 hours of interpretation for a maximum of 5 participants. For $60 you get 10 hours with 20 participants, and $130 you get 25 hours with 50 participants. If you need more, Waverly says it will set up a custom setup for you.
There is also a free version, convenient for very casual users, offering 25 minutes per month for three participants. The free tier is also limited to 10 total sessions per month, while all paid tiers include unlimited sessions. (Note: Your minutes only count when you’re actively speaking. Listeners don’t burn minutes listening to translated audio, and in fact, you can use the app without even registering if you want to be just a passive listener and never plan to speak.)
If you just need occasional translations between multiple speakers and can persuade everyone in your group to download an app and join a session at the same time, Waverly Forum is a great tool to have in your arsenal. The free version may be sufficient for most, and I expect that most users who need the paid versions will benefit from some sort of enterprise support to cover its not insignificant cost. At the highest level, a sustained subscription equates to over $1,500 per year, which is a massive investment in something you don’t even own. And it’s per user.
Again, it’s important to emphasize that Forum is truly designed as a solution for multiple users, each with their own device. If you’re just trying to catalyze a one-on-one (12:59) bilingual conversation through a single device, this isn’t a good solution.