Microsoft promised that Skype would soon deliver a real time translation service. Now it has.

The downside? It’s only available in Windows, for now anyway.

Yes, that’s right. Skype Translator has been officially released to the public.  Users of Skype on Windows can now hold voice-to-voice conversations with another person and hear the spoken words translated in real time.

skype translator

The Skype team claim that voice-to-voice translation is now available in 7 languages:

Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. So far as well, the new Microsoft service seems to have been a hit, with the Skype blog team claiming:

  • French to English is the most popular language pair
  • The number of calls per day has increased 400% since launch
  • The top international Skype Translator calling corridor is Germany to Ghana

Microsoft are keen also to let everyone know they are working on increasing the number of languages and platforms, and integrating Translator into various different apps. Currently, the Skype text-to-text translation service can write in over 50 instant message languages.

“This is just the beginning of a journey that will transform the way we communicate with people around the world. Our long-term goal for speech translation is to translate as many languages as possible on as many platforms as possible and deliver the best Skype Translator experience on each individual platform for our more than 300 million connected users,” said Gurdeep Pall when the preview version of Translator was released back in December.

Star Trek universal translator?

Not yet. Skype does rely on machine learning. This means while Skype Translator is an impressive tool, it’s not perfect. It uses a method of ‘Deep Learning’ in order to teach itself all the different nuances and be able to recognize all the tricks and ahs and umms of everyday conversation. As Skype Translator evolves, the accuracy with which it translates is set to only improve.

This in turn does highlight the limitations of how even the ‘smartest’ computer can have trouble detecting all the variables in human speech. That said, what Skype Translator can do, is impressive and if nothing else is worth a look.

If you want to try out Skype Translator, Skype for Windows customers can click on the globe in the upper right corner of the app.

If you don’t have Skype, you can download it here from now.