New Microsoft Teams app eliminates an obvious advantage for Zoom

A new add-on has introduced real-time translation functionality to video meetings on Microsoft Teams, closing the gap on rival vendor Zoom.

The service is supplied by a company called Interprefy, which was invited to integrate its cloud-based translation offering into Microsoft Teams.

The integration gives Microsoft customers access to Interprefy’s network of professional interpreters, who dial into meetings on request. Once a session has begun, users can switch between the original audio feed and the interpreter’s translation via a drop-down menu.


(Image credit: Interprefy)

Live translation for video meetings

Back in June 2021, Zoom announced the acquisition of live translation startup Kites GmbH, which was brought on to help develop machine translation (MT) solutions that would allow users to communicate in real-time with colleagues from across the world.

“We are continuously looking for new ways to deliver happiness to our users and improve meeting productivity, and MT solutions will be key in enhancing our platform for Zoom customers across the globe,” said Velchamy Sankarlingam, President of Product and Engineering at Zoom, at the time.

Although this vision hasn’t come to fruition just yet, Zoom has also long offered the ability for human interpreters to dial into meetings via a feature called Simultaneous Interpretations.

Until now, Microsoft has been able to offer neither machine-based nor human translation, but the integration of Interprefy into the Teams platform will fill this gap in lieu of a first-party offering.

“We're thrilled to have been working closely with Microsoft in bringing Interprefy's multilingual meeting expertise to Teams users worldwide”, says Oddmund Braaten, CEO at Interprefy. “This is a huge step towards inclusivity and accessibility of global meetings to foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration.”

Separately, but in a similar vein, Microsoft announced earlier this week that it would open up its live captions feature to a wider pool of users in an effort to improve accessibility standards.

Introduced soon after the shift to remote working as a result of the pandemic, the Microsoft Teams live captions feature is designed to ensure all video meeting participants can follow the thread of conversation effectively.

Until now, the live captions feature has been gated behind a registration wall. In other words, if someone was joining a meeting as a guest via a link provided by the host, they would have to make do without the accessibility feature. But this will no longer be the case, courtesy of an update expected to land by the end of April.

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