New Microsoft Teams apps eliminate a clear advantage for Zoom

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A pair of new add-ons introduced real-time translation functionality for videoconferences to Microsoft Teamsclosing the gap with the competing supplier Zoom.

The service is provided by Interprefy and KUDO, whose cloud-based translation offerings have been integrated into Microsoft Teams.

Integrations give Microsoft customers access to an extensive network of professional interpreters, who connect to meetings on demand. Once a session has started, users can switch between the original audio stream and the interpreter’s translation via a drop-down menu.

To interpret

Interprefy in Microsoft Teams. (Image credit: Interprefy)

Live Translation for Video Conferencing

In June 2021, Zoom announced the acquisition of the live translation start-up Kites GmbHwho was brought in to help develop machine translation (MT) solutions that would allow users to communicate in real time with colleagues around the world.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to bring happiness to our users and improve meeting productivity, and MT solutions will be essential in improving our platform for Zoom customers around the world,” Velchamy said. Sankarlingam, president of product and engineering at Zoom, at the time.

While that vision has yet to come to fruition, Zoom has also long offered the ability for human interpreters to dial into meetings through a feature called Simultaneous Interpretations.

Until recently, Microsoft was unable to offer machine or human translation, but the integration of Interprefy and KUDO into the Teams platform fills this gap instead of a first-party offering.

“We are delighted to have worked closely with Microsoft to bring Interprefy’s multilingual meetings expertise to Teams users around the world,” said Oddmund Braaten, CEO of Interprefy. “This is a big step towards inclusiveness and accessibility of global meetings to foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration.”

Separately, but in the same vein, Microsoft announced earlier this week that it would open up its live captioning feature to more users in a bid to improve accessibility standards.

Introduced shortly after the shift to remote working in the wake of the pandemic, Microsoft Teams’ live captioning feature is designed to ensure that all video meeting participants can effectively follow the thread of the conversation.

Until now, the live captioning feature was locked behind a recording wall. In other words, if someone joined a meeting as a guest via a link provided by the host, they should skip the accessibility feature. But that will no longer be the case, thanks to an update that should arrive at the end of April.

Update: Monday, March 14

In an earlier version of this article, Tech Radar Pro suggested that Interprefy was the first company to integrate its live translation offering into Microsoft Teams.

We have since been made aware that a competing service, KUDO, was natively integrated into the collaboration platform last November.

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