Skype smashes language barrier with rollout of translation services

Microsoft has completed the roll out of the real-time translation feature to all Skype for Windows users. It says traffic spiked after the preview launched a year ago.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read

Are you looking for the 21st century equivalent of a foreign pen pal, but don't want to learn a new language? Skype has you covered.


French to English is the most popular pair of languages on Skype's translation service.


The video-calling service owned by Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft yesterday completed the roll out of an update allowing all Windows users to take advantage of its real-time translation service. If you're a Skype user, this means you can now make a buddy in various countries around the world without a language barrier coming between you.

Skype has long been a favorite communication method of choice for business folks and people in long-distance relationships, but video-calling rivals like WhatsApp and FaceTime have sprung up as popular alternatives. The translation feature sets it apart by allowing you to make arrangements with your Chinese Airbnb host or chat up Venezuelan hotties. Note that Microsoft makes no promises that your awkward attempts at flirting won't get lost in translation.

Since releasing the update, Skype said the number of calls that take place every day on the service has increased 400 percent since it launched its preview a year ago. Skype is currently able to translate seven languages voice-to-voice (Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish) and more than 50 over instant message.

French to English is the most popular pair of languages on the translation services. We're sure this is no reflection on the willingness of native English and French speakers to learn foreign language skills.

Curiously, the "most international" Skype Translator calling corridor runs between Germany and Ghana. It leaves us wondering what the connection is between these two countries to merit such an exotic title other than their alphabetical proximity to one another.

Skype is working to bring more languages to the service and said it hopes to make it compatible with more platforms down the line.