(Mirror Daily, United States) – The term universal translator isn’t so foreign for Star Trek fans who are well aware that sometime in the 23rd century, automatic translation into everyone’s native language will finally be possible.
But Microsoft cut the waiting way short, thrilling Trekkers – and a broader audience as well – with the announcement of Skype Translator on Tuesday. So far, the service is officially part of the Skype app only for Windows, but other operating systems are scheduled to get it soon.
If not magic, then Skype Translator is something akin to that. Speaking with your pan pals around the globe is suddenly not so much a language test as a fun experience; you could be speaking in English with a Spanish native, and Skype would diligently give you a real-time translation of both ends of the conversation.
While there’s the option to provide English closed captions when the Spanish speaker is talking, Skype has also incorporated a “reading out loud” tool that allows users to have as natural a conversation as possible considering the two people speak different languages.
In spite of the slight delay that users might experience due to Microsoft’s cloud engines, the translations still convey with ultra-speed. You can expect, however, to encounter the usual comical goofs that happen with most translation apps, such as Google Translate.
But unlike any other, Skype Translator is capable of conveying more than just a general idea of your interlocutor’s message – it’s good enough that you can have a lengthy conversation with no problem.
Microsoft explained that the translator technology is expected to only get better with time, considering that it’s been trained to learn as it goes. In other words, the more people star using it, the better the app will become.
Incorporating the Skype Translator into the main app was a smart move; back in December, the company had launched a preview in the form of a separate app, which was popular on its own. According to Microsoft, hundreds of thousands of users had tested the beta version.
Now, all you have to do is click on the little globe icon that shows in the top right of the conversation window, and the Skype Translator will be turned on. But there are still some limitations, at least when it comes to the voice languages currently available in Skype Translator.
While there are 50 text languages included, only 6 have the voice service: English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish. At the same time, there’s good news for people who don’t own a Windows PC: as long as the friends you chat with has one, you’re good to go!
Image Source: Skype