Last week, Skype took the next step towards building a truly connected world: support for real-time language translation using Skype Translator on calls made to mobile and landline phones.
The translator has been available on Skype since 2014, but the expansion to support more traditional means of communication will be exclusive for Skype Preview users and members of the Windows Insider Program.
Skype Translator works for both voice calls and instant messaging on the app, and it uses machine learning technology to get faster and more accurate translations with input from every conversation.
How does Skype Translator work?
Skype Translator employs Microsoft’s AI power to process live voice conversations and written messages. The translation tool is then able to generate and send a message in the end language just seconds after the first one was sent.
Microsoft and Skype need to collect the content of users’ conversations for the Translator to work, but the software giant claims they do not store nor sell the exchanges to third parties.
Translated conversations on Skype undergo an encryption process that categorizes them under an alphanumeric pattern before collection in the company’s servers.
If users want to turn the Translator option off due to security and privacy concerns, they can disable the feature in the app’s General Options menu.
What is Skype Preview?
Skype Preview is a next generation version of the standard Skype app, with support for chats, video calls between users of the platform and voice call to regular phones using Skype Credit.
Skype Preview is only available on PCs running x64 and x86 Windows 10 versions after the installation of the Anniversary Update. It is also exclusive to machines with ARM chips.
The app is also different from the old Skype in that it is not only available on PC, mobile devices, and Xbox One but also in the new Windows Holographic platforms using the company’s VR headsets.
How to use Skype Translator on a conversation
Setting up Skype Translator is as easy as selecting a few options before starting a conversation within Skype.
Users need first to select the contact they want to talk to and then choose the Globe icon on the chat window. On Skype Preview, this icon is next to the dial pad for calls to cell phones and landlines.
There, they will see the Translator option, and by clicking on it to enable, they will prompt a language list from which to choose the language of the contact.
Voice calls on Skype, landline, or mobile phones support nine languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Instant messages support up to 50.
After choosing a language, speakers need to go on as they would with any other conversation. Skype recommends using a headset to receive speech more clearly.
On the receiving end, interlocutors will receive the translated message a few seconds later from a machine assistant which also provides a written transcription of what the speaker said.