Skype’s real-time translation service is now available for anyone to preview, allowing speakers of four different languages to carry a conversation much like the universal translator used in Star Trek to communicate with alien races.
During a conversation, each participant speaks their native language. As words are being spoken, Skype Translator is busy translating each and every word before spitting it back out on the other end in that person’s native language either audibly or via transcript. Aside from the translation, Skype Translator works just like the regular Skype app.
While not quite perfect just yet, it works well enough that two people can hold a conversation without issue. It’s worth mentioning that you’ll get the best results if both participants are using a headset and are on a wired, broadband connection.
Microsoft demonstrated Skype Translator nearly a year ago during Re/code’s Code Conference before accepting applications to preview it in November. A month later, the Redmond-based company launched the service in limited beta with support for English and Spanish. In April, Microsoft expanded on its capabilities by adding Italian and Chinese (Mandarin) to the mix.
Skype Translator also offers a written, instant message translation service that supports more than 40 languages.
The Skype Translator app is available in the Windows Store for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Technical Preview users. No word yet on when Microsoft plans to move the service out of beta status.