Skype Expands Live Translation To Calls To Landlines, Mobile Phones

Image courtesy of Skype

Microsoft’s Skype voice and video chat service offers a feature that could be very useful: real-time audio translation of your calls. Until now, it’s only been an option for calls to other Skype users, but now the service will be available to Skype users when they call out from the service to landlines and mobile phones.

If you want to try out the service, here’s what you need to have:

  • A membership to the Windows Insider program (that gets you early releases of new software, including…
  • The latest beta of the Skype software, or Skype Preview as Microsoft calls it.
  • Some credit or a subscription to Skype, since you have to pay for calls to an outside device.
  • The service is available for nine languages so far: you can translate calls between English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Arabic, and Russian.

    When you place a call, the person on the other end will hear a recording in the target language explaining what on earth is going on, and then the service will connect you.

    Over a year ago, Quartz ran an experiment testing Skype’s translation skills in a conversation between an English speaker and a Mandarin speaker. The results ranged from “slightly garbled” to “leaving out multiple sentences at a stretch,” and didn’t seem trustworthy for a basic business transaction or other routine calls.

    (via The Verge)