Google Translate is due for a major update that will see the service refreshed to include the ability to recognize and interpret voice flung from a variety of popular tongues, much like Skype's new voice translation service, according to reports.

Right now, Google Translate can recognize over 80 languages. Written or spoken words can be translated into text, but that is apparently not good enough.

Google is planning to update Google Translate for Android, giving the software the ability to translate text or voice without latency, according to a report from the New York Times. The update will also enable Google Translate to interpret signs and it'll enhance the software's ability to accurately deliver translations in general.

It isn't clear if the Google Translate update will enable the software to read translated text aloud, but the pieces to do so are there and it would make sense. Skype Translate spews out voice and text translations in real time, as best as it can.

Anyone who has used Google Translate or Chrome's webpage translations can attest to the software's abilities and shortcomings. A lot gets lost in translation, but Microsoft says it's relying heavily on machine learning to enable Skype Translate to grow into a reliable translation service.

Microsoft is using Bing Translator, phrases mined from Wordpress and conversations provided by users of Skype Translator's preview period. The tech company says Skype Translator's machine learning foundation will enable the software to become more efficient, the more people use it.

"By learning from the training data during this preview stage, along with all of its nuances, the software can learn to better recognize and translate the diversity of topics, accents and language variation of actual Skype Translator users," stated Microsoft when it announced the preview of Skype Translator.

Skype Translator's preview period is focusing on Spanish and English translation alone. There's a lovely little video of a classroom of English speakers engaging with peers at a school in Mexico, with Skype Translator and an Internet connection bring the two groups together for a conversation.

Microsoft says the preview of Skype Translator is just the beginning of a journey that will someday see the service mediate conversations between all of the world's most popular tongues. Now that Google has stepped up its own efforts in the translation spear, it seems like a matter of time now before the language barrier is left in shards and the world gets a little bit smaller.

While we wait to see what Google has been working on, check out Skype Translator in action:

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