Bravo! Skype Real-Time Translator Learns To Speak Chinese And Italian

One of the many neat things about the Internet is that it connects people from all over the world. However, by itself the web doesn't overcome language barriers, so even though you can exchange messages with someone from a foreign country, will you be able to understand each other? That's where Skype Translator comes into play, and it just learned some new languages.

Skype Translator rolled out last December as a preview program with the ability to translate English into Spanish and Spanish into English. So if you're in Tennessee and you fire up a video chat with someone from Mexico and enable Skype Translator, your English will be translated into Spanish, both verbally and visually, and vice versa. Cool stuff.

Skype Translate

Well, it's even cooler -- Skype Translator has now learned to speak Italian and Chinese (Mandarin), in addition to English and Spanish. This is impressive stuff, especially Mandarin, which the Skype team says is a "very challenging language to learn, even for Skype Translator." That's because there are around 10,000 characters and multiple tones to master, making it one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to master.

As for adding Italian to the mix, the Skype team says it received a lot of feedback requesting Italian from people who have signed up for the Skype Translator preview program, and so here it is. While perhaps not as challenging as Mandarin, this is exciting stuff that opens up a world of opportunity.

"Today, we meet another chapter for Skype Translator on our journey to enrich the way we communicate with family and friends around the world. Our long term goal is to translate as many languages as possible on all relevant platforms, and deliver the best Skype Translator experience for our more than 300 million connected customers," Skype said in a blog post. "We’ll continue to evolve the technology and we look forward to sharing more milestones with you in the future. Thank you for joining us on this journey!"

The latest update also added a few new features, including the option to hear instant messages people send you, in the language of your choice; continuous recognition; automatic volume control so that the translation is played at full volume as your partner is speaking, while his/her speech is at a lower volume; and a mute option to turn the translated audio on or off if you'd prefer to just read the text.