Skype Translator is now available to everyone, breaking down language barriers around the world

And it's free

Starting today, Skype Translator will move out of beta preview and start rolling out to everyone using the Skype for Windows desktop app.

The tool, which translates conversations in near real time, will be available free for users of the Skype desktop client. Six voice languages will be compatible at launch - English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin Spanish - as well as 50 others just for text-based messaging.

Once you've got the update, a new globe icon will appear in the top right of the window. Clicking it will turn Translator on, meaning your conversation will then become translated as you talk. Not only will they be translated in audio but you'll have subtitles too.

Techradar had a conversation with somebody using Translator, ourselves speaking English and them speaking Italian. It was clear that there are still improvements to be made in accuracy when detecting words, particularly my own name, but much of it was spot on.

And it will get better. As more people use it, Skype Translator will improve in accuracy through machine learning. It also recognises names in your address book, so if you're talking about someone and it doesn't pick up on the name, Skype recommends adding that person to your contact book.

Breaking down barriers

"We're still in the early learning days," Lee Ott, Director of Product Management, told techradar. "We're much better now at dealing with accents, we're much better at dealing with an expanded vocabulary"

"Now it's ready for a much broader audience, so we're going to take it out to the world, and that in turn will increase its accuracy very quickly."

Right now Translator is only on Desktop, but given Skype's roadmap until now, it wouldn't surprise us if it the mobile and web versions follow in the not-too-distant future. There's also no word on when it will come to Skype for Mac.

The update will begin rolling out for the desktop client today. Don't panic if it doesn't hit you immediately - it's on its way.