Microsoft Skype just expanded its feature allowing users to translate their speech in real time. The company announced that Skype Translator, previously only available for calls made between one Skype client and another, will now include all calls to mobile phones and landlines.
The Translator feature currently supports nine spoken languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Arabic, and Russian. That represents a sizeable chunk of the native languages spoken by the world’s population. But the feature is still far from perfect. The company said it recommends that callers use headsets to improve translation quality.
Additionally, since the translation algorithm is being driven by deep learning programs, the system is only as good as the size of its data set. While Translator has been learning from users since 2014, Skype said the quality of the translations would continue to improve gradually as more people use it.
Although last week’s announcement represents a significant expansion for the real-time translation feature, which first began rolling out to users two years ago, it still won’t be available for everyone yet. Users will need to be members of the Windows Insider Program, which Microsoft uses to make previews available to members willing to test out new products and features.
Users must also install the latest beta version of Skype Preview on a PC as well as have a Skype subscription or enough credits available to pay for the feature. Users who meet those requirements can use the feature by selecting the dial pad in the Skype app and entering a phone number. An option for Skype Translator will appear next to the call button. Tapping it will bring up settings for Skype Translator.
From there, users can set the languages they will be using and start their calls. Once the people on the other side pick up, they will hear a short message stating that the call is being recorded and translated through Skype Translator. Alternatively, users can place calls to individuals listed as Skype contacts with mobile or landline numbers stored in their profiles. To do so, users can select the contact, then tap on the Translator icon to bring up the options
Progress to Universal Translator on Star Trek
Talk Translate is a Google Android app.
Talk translate works with 28 languages
iTranslate is on the Apple store and translates up to 40 languages in realtime
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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