If ever there were a tangible sign that we’re living in the 21st century, it’d be live digital language translation. Following their announcement last year, Microsoft has officially brought real-time translation to all Skype users.
The service, while currently an open preview (or beta) is far from perfect, but allows for real-time transcription between two Skype users speaking different languages.
The Skype Translator app – which has seen a limited test release since its announcement – is now available to the general public and presently supports four spoken languages: English, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin. The app further supports 50 languages in text with Microsoft looking to add additional languages in the future.
Skype Translator is now available as a free download on the Windows Store for computers or tablets running on the latest version of Windows 8.1. Following an extended beta period, Microsoft has confirmed that it intends to release the app across a multitude of platforms – which likely includes OS X, iOS, Android and Windows Phone versions.
Skype executive Yasmin Kahn announced the launch of Skype Translator, stating the service’s intention to “break down language barriers that have historically made it challenging for friends and families to connect” and “to deliver the best speech translation experience to more than 300 million connected Skype users.”
While Skype Translator isn’t the first in the field, Microsoft’s new venture looks set to be the most widely used real-time translation service in existence.
Microsoft, however, isn’t the only company looking to further the horizon of language translation: Google debuted a new feature for its widely used Translate app this year, that allows users to pair two of 38 language options for translation as well as automatic translation for physical text or signs through a photograph.
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