Skype translations now work with calls to phone lines

So long as you're a Windows Insider, that is.

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Skype's live translations are no longer limited to fellow internet callers. If you're part of the Windows Insider Program, you now have access to a Skype Preview release for PCs that will translate calls to conventional phones, whether they're cellphones or landlines. If you need to contact a hotel where no one speaks your native tongue, you might have a chance of holding a conversation. The recipients get a notice that Skype is recording and translating the call, so they have an opportunity to hang up if they're particularly concerned about their privacy.

The expanded translation works with nine languages (Arabic, Brazilian Portugese, English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish). And since you're calling phone lines instead of other voice-over-internet users, you'll need some Skype credit to reach anyone who isn't using a toll-free number. Still, if you're willing to live on the edge, it's an important step.

There are more improvements if you don't care for these features. You can forward Skype calls to a traditional phone line if you won't have access to the app. It's also possible to capture and share video messages, whether or not a contact is online. You can better manage conversations, too -- it's possible to both mark conversations as read and introduce people on Skype by sharing contact info. It may take some time for these updates to launch in a polished release, but that patience may pay off.

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