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For years, we’ve been hearing about how Microsoft was developing a translate feature for Skype. Now, that feature has been tested to a point where it’s ready to hit the market.
And yes, it’s exactly as futuristic and cool as you thought it would be.
Microsoft announced the general release of Skype Translator on May 12, 2015. The service isn’t yet an included default feature in Skype, but anyone on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 can download it for free by visiting http://www.skype.com/translator
Here are some early hands-on impressions of the new Skype Translator tool.
Over 50 Languages Available (7 Spoken Languages)
Skype Translator can instantly translate messages in over 50 different languages. Most of those languages (40+) only work with instant messaging.
But there are currently 7 supported spoken languages, where you talk in one language into one end of the Skype conversation and it outputs the language of the person to whom you’re speaking.
You’re probably more interested in the 7 supported spoken languages. Those languages include:
-Chinese (Hong Kong SAR)
So far, the first phase of Translator’s release only lets you translate between Spanish and English for now. The supported languages listed above are expected to be added to the final release of Translator once it’s available for the general public.
Only Available on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 for Now
Unfortunately, if you’re using Windows 7, you won’t be able to use Skype Translator yet. Microsoft has only released the software onto its Windows app store, so it’s only available to users of Windows 10 and Windows 8.1.
See It In Action
A writer over at Gizmodo showed off Skype Translator in action. He called his buddy in Madrid and had a genuine, understandable conversation in spite of the fact that neither was speaking the same language.
You can watch that experience in the video on this page.
The two noted that you have to speak fairly slowly for it to work perfectly, and that it doesn’t work that well with slang or weird accents (for now).
Translator lets you view a live translation on the right as you’re speaking. It’s kind of like the existing Skype IM screen. By default, a robotic voice will read out the transcript for you. The reviewer mentioned above would eventually turn off that feature and simply read it to himself.
The reviewer also noted that Skype did surprisingly well even when loud music was playing in the background.
And of course, there’s some obvious innuendo problems. One sentence of “I think I have a handle on this guy” was translated into Spanish to “pere creo que tengo un mango de este tipo”, which means “I think I have a dick of this type.” Nice one.
Despite the early shortcomings, Skype Translator seems to show massive potential. I can’t wait to see where it goes.