Skype Translator wants to be a real-life babel fish

It's time to abandon those attempts at broken Spanish... or is it?

Distance is no longer a barrier to communication but we're still separated by the 6,500 spoken languages in the world. Skype Translate is, rather ambitiously, looking to change that.

Translate adds real-time language translation in both audio and text to your Skype call. You say your piece and after a short delay it is repeated in the recipient's language both aurally and in a handy transcript.

The software has been in an unofficial open beta state that Microsoft are calling a 'preview' since December, and is far from a complete product.

Translation of instant messages is currently functional in over 50 languages, while spoken languages are currently limited to English, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish. For an indication of why, try watching Microsoft's 2014 demo of the software below. 

The course of new technology ne'er runs smooth. It seems that real-time parsing of human speech is a more challenging task than interpreting text. Just look at that executive sweat.

It's clearly not going to get the translation right every time, but if you're willing to give Skype Translate a chance, and risk the possibility of saying something unspeakable to your Italian grandma, a preview version is now available for download from the Microsoft Store

Alternatively, get your butt off the couch and enjoy the challenging and rewarding process of learning another language.