Skype can now let you talk to people who speak another language, even if you call them on their telephone. Its automated voice translation will, from an upcoming edition of Windows 10, work even if one party isn’t using the Skype software.
The voice translation works on nine languages: Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. It’s simply a combination of several existing technologies (voice recognition, machine translation, voice synthesis) but works quickly enough that it’s possible to have a conversation without too many pauses. Most feedback suggests it’s the voice recognition that’s most likely to cause problems, particularly with strong accents.
Until now the tool has only worked on calls where both people are using Skype, likely so it can crunch data on both devices involved. It’ll now work on calls to phone numbers for people on the Windows Insider Program (previewing upcoming Windows 10 updates) running the Skype app. Although there’s no additional cost to use the translation, it’s only available if the person making the call has credit on their account.