Microsoft now offers real-time translation on iOS and Android. Here's how it works

You need two devices, but it is possible to have a two-way conversation across two different languages.

Microsoft translator app iOS Android how it works
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has updated its Translator app to allow for real-time two-way conversation in different languages. All you need is a smartwatch and smartphone.

The technology is based on the same machine-learning translation engine used in Skype Translator, which has also been ported to Word Online and the Office suite. It works on Android, Android Wear, iOS, and Apple Watch. 

See also: Microsoft's Skype Translator has a potty mouth

It's not quite as simple as tapping a small device on your chest, a la Star Trek, but it's not that difficult, either. You open Microsoft Translator on both your wearable and your phone, then hand the phone to the person with whom you are conversing. One person talks into their device, and the other person will see translated text on their device. They then respond by talking into their device, and a text translation appears on your device. 

Skype Translator supports a multitude of languages, but for now this two-way translation system supports Mandarin Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish 

"We haven't gotten to a babelfish experience yet, and we'll keep working towards providing better and a more natural translation experience in the future," the Translator team wrote in a blog entry announcing the new functionality.

Microsoft launched Translator apps for Apple Watch and Android Wear in August, but as yet has not added support for its own products. Microsoft Band, Windows 10 Mobile, and Windows Phone are still not supported. The iOS and Android apps are on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

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