Imagine being able to speak another language without having to learn it. Skype is making it possible.
The Microsoft-owned chat service on Monday launched the first phase of its Skype Translator preview program first announced back in May. Jointly developed by Microsoft researchers and Skype engineers, the new feature uses real-time speech translation technologies to let you have a conversation with someone over the Internet who speaks a different language.
This means you can have a conversation just like normal, and Skype will translate what you say into the other person's language in 'near real-time.' Then, when the other person says something, it will be translated back to your language.
At this point, the feature is still pretty limited. It only works with Spanish and English, but Microsoft said it plans to add more languages soon. In the meantime, it will translate more than 40 different languages if you're just instant messaging, not speaking. You'll also need a device running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Technical Preview to try it out at the moment.
'Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets,' the Skype team wrote in a blog post. 'We are starting with English and Spanish, and as more people use the Skype Translator preview with these languages, the quality will continually improve.'
For a look at Skype Translator in action, check out the video below. To check it out for yourself, sign up to be a preview user.
For more, see PCMag's roundup of Skype tips in the slideshow above.