Skype Translator adds Italian and Mandarin language support

Kareem Anderson

Skype Translator is connecting more, adding Italian and Mandarin

Back in December, Skype Translator rolled out the impressive ‘first phase’ of their preview program. The program kicked off with two languages, Spanish and English, being the only available spoken languages at the time. The preview did, however, offer over 40 instant messaging languages to customers who signed up for the Translator program and were using a Windows 8.1 device.

Since then, the Skype Translator team has been hard at work on reaching their next milestone, or ‘second phase’ of the preview program. Today, the Skype Translator preview program is announcing the addition of two more spoken languages: Italian and Chinese (Mandarin).

December 2014 to April 2015 may seem like a long time to add widely used languages, but it looks like the Skype team is attempting to tackle some of the harder to translate languages first in their rollouts. The Microsoft research team in Beijing, China, had been working with their US-based colleagues in developing the Mandarin translations since 2012.

Alongside the new language additions, the preview also brings some new updates intended to help simplify communication between participants.

Text to speech translation:

  • You now have the option to hear the instant messages people send to you – in the language of your choice
  • Continuous recognition – Recognized text translation as your partner is speaking

Automatic volume control:

  • Your partner can speak while the translation is still happening. You will hear the translation at full volume, and your partner at a lower volume, so that you can follow the translation, which will help make conversations more fluid.

Mute option for translated voice:

  • There is now an option to easily turn the translated audio on or off if you would prefer to only read the transcript.

While there are only four spoken languages available in the current preview, Skype Translator preview has also added more languages to their wide-ranging list of instant messaging. Participants can now use Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Maya and Otomi with the new update.

With over 300 million customers using Skype, we can expect to see more spoken languages added to the preview and ultimately, the final product. The Microsoft Research team hinted at their attempt to tackle other challenging languages to translate such as Arabic, Japanese, and Korean. However, there are no dates or announcements for these language additions just yet.