With little fanfare, a significant change to Skype translation goes live.
One would think the addition of a feature like this would have Microsoft screaming from the rooftops, but very quietly Microsoft added a new feature to Skype that supports its real-time translation technology in calls to landlines and mobile phones.
The new feature was added to its preview build of the Skype Windows Store app late last week. The new version of Skype Preview can now perform real-time spoken-word translations via Skype Translator when calling landlines and mobile phones, and the person on the other end does not need Skype on their phone to receive translations or be translated.
Of course, it’s not for everyone. To use this new version of Skype Preview, you need to be run the latest build of Windows 10 Insider preview from the fast ring. That tends to be reserved for dedicated testers and developers, since fast ring releases aren’t as stable as normal builds and are geared for debugging.
Should you be running Build 14986, just download and install the latest version of Skype Preview from the store. If you already have Skype Preview installed, then all you need to do is check for updates.
Plus, you need some Skype credits or a calling subscription, since calls to landlines and mobile phones are not free. Good news if you are an Office 365 Home or Personal subscriber, as you get 60 minutes of free Skype calling minutes every month.
It may still be in the early stages, but this advance is significant and cannot be understated. Instead of requiring both parties to be at a PC with a headset and Skype, one can be completely free of the PC. Think of the benefits to emerging countries where computing is not as widely available and they still use landlines. Or think of its potential uses for people in the field, far from a power plug but with a smartphone.
Either way, this enables translation technology to many more corners of the world. As more languages are added, it will only enable more global communication. Skype currently supports nine spoken languages: Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian and Russian.
There is no release date for this version of Skype. Don’t hold your breath for it, as the fast ring builds are for Redstone 2, aka the Creators Update, which is tentatively scheduled for next spring (April/May). And no one has really been able to put Skype Update through its paces to see how well it works, so the app itself likely needs more work.