Microsoft is doing everything it can to stay ahead in the consumer translation services game, and it’s just added a new feature to the already-impressive Skype Translator.
Back in 2014, Skype announced to the world that it was ready to translate our conversations in real-time via video calls. That was a major story, but three years is a long time in this field and Skype’s translation services rivals have been catching up.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has been fairly quiet on updates to its translation technology – but not anymore. Because, now it’s telling us Skype is ready to translate your calls to mobiles and landlines too.
Skype’s translation services expands
Until now, Skype Translator has only operated for Skype-to-Skype calls, meaning both users need to be using the software. This is no longer the case – users can now make calls to mobile and landline phones from Skype and get the regular translator experience – as long as one user has the following three things:
- Windows Insider Program
- The latest version of Skype Preview
- Enough Skype credit to make the call
With all those things in place you can make calls to people on mobile or landlines and boot up Skype Translator as normal. People on the other end will hear a message upon pick up to notify them that the conversation is being recorded and translated and then you’re good to get talking.
You can find out more information about the new feature over at the Skype blog.
How good is Skype Translator?
Skype Translator uses an infrastructure known as machine learning. This means it should get better at translating over time as more people use it. So how good has its translation services been over the last three years?
Well, upon release there was only languages supported for voice/video calls in English and Spanish. However, Skype has since added Arabic, Chinese mandarin, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazilian) and Russian to the list.
Another 50 languages are available for text translation but that’s not going to be much help for making calls to mobile and landlines.
Either way, Skype offers impressive support for a wide range of languages and its real-time features are steadily getting better. The big downfall keeps coming back to the accuracy of the translation services it’s capable of, but the same thing goes for all the key players in translation technology. We’ve kind of hit the ceiling in terms of machine translation accuracy (at least for now) so the emphasis seems to be on adding new features that simply allow us to use the same technology in new places.