Microsoft Teams can now translate your calls — with a catch

Microsoft has just announced a new addition to Microsoft Teams that it has developed in conjunction with the Welsh Government. The new feature makes it easier for organizations and government agencies to host meetings in multiple languages.

This replaces previous workarounds that have proven to be a pain to deal with. There’s one (unsurprisingly) caveat that Teams users still need to keep in mind when scheduling a meeting: the translation will be done by human interpreters.

Microsoft

Microsoft announced its latest win on its official website. With this new solution, designated interpreters can translate during a Teams meeting and the people attending the meeting can choose which language they want to listen to. This invention could potentially vastly improve bilingual meetings, or even meetings held in multiple languages ​​with speakers from all over the world.

Since this feature requires the assistance of human interpreters, it only serves a purpose during scheduled meetings where these interpreters are allowed to attend. In Teams, participants are given the option to choose the language in real time and switch between languages ​​during the meeting. All of this is supported by the Microsoft Teams app with no additional steps required.

The fact that the feature was implemented in conjunction with the Welsh Government is no coincidence. In the blog post, Welsh Chief Digital Officer, Glyn Jones, notes that live interpretation will be crucial to the functioning of government. Wales is bilingual and therefore many meetings require translation services.

Jones praised the new position, saying, “I don’t think you can underestimate the impact this will have on organizations operating bi- or multilingual. We got really positive feedback from the people who tested it with us. The interpreters and the audience love it.”

The local government started using Teams in early 2020 and had to hire interpreters to attend meetings in person. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, translators had to come up with a workaround in the form of observing the meeting on Teams and translating it over a phone line. According to Aled Jones, co-owner of the translation agency that works with the Welsh Government: “It wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done.”

Jones called the feature “groundbreaking” due to the fact that everything happens within the same app and allows Teams to deliver a smooth, seamless experience where the interpretation doesn’t draw too much attention while still providing an inclusive experience.

While it’s not quite the futuristic live AI-based translation that many companies are working on or even offer, the feature added by Teams sounds like a simple and reliable way to make remote meetings so much easier – and it is. always a good thing .

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