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What language barrier? Skype can now translate calls to mobile phones, landlines

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For the past two years, Skype users have been able to use the service’s Translator functionality to remove the language barrier from their conversations. Now, this feature is being rolled out for use in calls to mobile phones and landlines.

Skype Translator works by recording everything a particular participant says, translating it to the desired language, recording the results to a transcript, and playing the script back to the other person on the call. This produces a slight delay before the person on the other end of the line hears what you’re saying, but it certainly works well enough to facilitate a conversation.

To get access to Translator functionality, users must be enrolled in the Windows Insider Program. Beyond that, they’ll need the latest version of Skype Preview installed on their system, and either some Skype credit or an active subscription.

A “Translate” toggle switch should be present on the dial pad when users go to make a call, according to a report from The Verge. After flicking the switch, the caller will be prompted to select the languages that are going to be in use, then the call can be placed as normal.

Skype Translator currently supports nine spoken languages; English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Arabic, and Russian. As per the blog post announcing support for calls to mobiles and landlines, using a headset will “significantly” improve the quality and accuracy of translation.

It’s easy to see why Skype is expanding access to its Translator functionality, as the company has long since claimed that the more these features are used, the more accurate its translations will become. Microsoft clearly wants to continue positioning Skype as a broad, multicapable communications tool, and attractive features like Translator will no doubt help carry out these efforts.

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Brad Jones
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
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