App will continue to be free for consumer use

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is racing Google Inc. (GOOG) to have the platform with the best voice translation.  And it appears that at long last, the Star Trek vision for a Universal Translator has almost been made a reality.
Just weeks ago, Quest Visual -- whose app "Word Lens" offer real-time translation via a smartphone camera of Spanish printed signage -- was acquired by Google for an undisclosed sum.  Google said it will continue to support the standalone app for Android and its rival Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS for now, but that ongoing development will shift to tightly-integrated, platform-exclusive features integrated into Android OS, Chrome OS, and Google's web API.

Word Lens acquired
There are currently a number of apps claiming real-time voice translation on Android; virtually all of them use the Google Translate API.
On Google and Windows Phone, there's the third party "iTranslate" app that includes the feature iTranslate AirTranslate (it offers real-time translation of phone calls to a speaker of a different language).
iTranslate is well established, calling itself the "most used" iOS translation app.  But it will soon have some tough competition.
Microsoft announced this week at the inaugural Code Conference (#CodeCon) in Rancho Palo Verdes, Calif. that a beta of Skype was coming with real-time translation by the end of 2014.  In a TechNet blog Microsoft writes:

The demo showed near real-time audio translation from English to German and vice versa, combining Skype voice and IM technologies with Microsoft Translator, and neural network-based speech recognition. Skype Translator is a great example of why Microsoft invests in basic research. We’ve invested in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade, and now they’re emerging as important components in this more personal computing era.

The company also revealed that Skype -- an integral core app in both Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 -- now has 300 million monthly active users.
When Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5B USD in cash back in May 2011, most felt it had goofed, overvaluing the video chat/calling service.  At the time Skype had 663 million registered users, 145 million of which used the service on a monthly basis.  The service only had 8.8 paying customers, who paid a monthly fee to access certain premium features.
In retrospect that valuation wasn't all that bad, given that Facebook, Inc. (FB) recently paid $19B USD for WhatsApp, a service that boasted 450 million active monthly users last year.

Source: TechNet

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