#015: MS Teams Inline Translation: Testing It Out.

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What is Microsoft Teams Inline Translation

〉How to enable Inline Translation

〉Does it work and how accurate is it?


In this episode of the Power Up Podcast, we share a little bit more information on Microsoft Teams Inline Translation.

Hey, welcome back to the Power Up Project podcast. My name is Ben Love. I’m your host for today.

Now a few episodes back, I shared some new features. Well, one particular new feature I want to touch on in Microsoft Teams, which was the Inline Translation. So just to recap, Microsoft Teams is a product from Microsoft, part of the Office 365 family that lets you do, amongst a lot of other things, a text chat so you type chat messages back and forth. So it’s a real head-to-head competitor with Slack, which a lot of people have been using and also Hipchat, which less people have been using, but still one of the big ones.

So what we touched on last time is that Microsoft released a feature which was inline translation within chats in Teams. So what that means is that if somebody in a chat enters some words there, a sentence or whatever in a language that is not your native language, Teams is able to translate that automatically for you into whatever your native language was.

Now, at the time that we mentioned with this, we hadn’t had a chance to play but, I have since had a chance to play and I just want to share a couple of things that I’ve learned. First of all, you need to enable this feature using some funky behind-the-scenes stuff called PowerShell. Now, for an IT person that’s pretty straightforward. For your average user, it’s probably not. So if you do want this feature enabled, get in touch with your IT person and I’m sure they can switch that on for you. I imagine at some point soon they will move that into a nice little on-off button somewhere in the settings. But for now, you need that PowerShell script run to enable this feature on your Teams, on your tenant.

The next thing is that this Inline Translation feature is not available in the newly announced free version of Microsoft Teams, so if you are an Office 365 user, you’re good to go, but if you are not and you’re taking advantage of the free Microsoft Teams version, apparently this inline translate is not part of that particular package. So be aware of that.

The other thing I wanted to follow up onto is how it actually works. So, we’ve done a little bit of testing here. The accuracy of the translation between a couple of different languages into English and vice versa seems really good actually. It’s using one of Microsoft’s cloud translate micro services, so that’s a micro service that is part of the larger Microsoft as your suite of stuff that you can actually use yourself, build it into your own software products and whatnot. It’s very cool.

But Microsoft are leading on that to provide this translation service within Teams, which makes perfect sense if you think about it. That’s what micro services are really intended for. The accuracy of the translation is really, really good subject of course, to some of the vagaries of how people use language colloquially and some of the different grammatical constructs that you can use in some languages to the other, but in terms of actually communicating and getting the message across, it’s actually really, really good. But, what you need to understand too is that in order to translate a line of text in a chat, you still need to click a button so it’s very easy to do. I mean, right next to the actual line of text you wish to translate, you just pop open a little menu and say translate, so it’s very quick and very easy to do, but it does not automatically recognise that a line of text needs to be translated. If that makes sense.

Now, I’m wondering whether they’re going to bring this automatic real-time translation into the product at some point in the future. I imagine they will, to be honest, but for now, it makes sense that this is the way it is, because there will be times when you don’t want this thing to decide that you want that translated, so I don’t see it as a problem the way it currently is. In fact, I had a quick chat with someone from my office whose familiar with WeChat, which is one of the other really big chat platforms on the Internet, but WeChat is very much a Chinese language thing predominantly, and it has offered this inline translation for a little while now.

Primarily between Chinese and English I believe, I haven’t used it myself. This is just anecdotally and with WeChat, you also need to click a button and say, “Please translate this line of text.” So that’s another interesting little thing there, WeChat, which is definitely ahead of Teams and came out with this feature well before Teams is still sticking with the manually translate this line of text option. So, interesting thing for us to learn there.

So, that’s really our recap on the inline translation feature in Microsoft Teams. Look, bottom line is it works bloody well. It’s really super clever. It’s very, very quick and easy to use. And if you do use Teams, which I would encourage you to have a look at, and you do communicate with people who speak another language, even if only just to have a play and test about I’d get in there, give it a go. It’s a fun bit of tech.

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