Skype has launched a new version of Skype for Android today, with Derek Snyder, head of mobile marketing at Skype, telling Pocket-lint that the changes reflect "a new direction and new strategy for Skype".
The broad changes arrive with the new Skype for Android 4.0, which is being called Android 4.0, and recognises the importance of the Skype platform on mobile devices, with Snyder also confirming that Skype for Android has seen 100 million Android installs.
The new Android 4.0 has been completely redesigned from the ground-up, so is an entirely new app, but pulls in elements from Windows Phone 8's modern UI.
Three main areas have been addressed in Android 4.0, aiming to put the mobile user's need first, rather than hanging on to Skype's legacy of desktop video calling.
First, messaging is being brought to the forefront, with Snyder saying messaging would now be "at your fingertips",
Second, Skype is looking to improve the experience across devices. Skype is already on most major platforms, but with a different user experience in each case. Android 4.0 is the first step in bringing a coherent design language across all platforms.
Finally, Skype for Android will be more reliable and less power hungry, so it will be less of a concern for those using on the move.
Cutting out the fluff, Android 4.0 removes the landing screen, so you're straight into the action, able to see your recent conversations and calls. The design, says Skype, makes it faster and easier to get to all the features you want.
The change will be welcomed by Android users, as the current app is known for being a bit of a power hog, and not the most reliable. The most obvious shift in focus for Skype appears to be a move towards messaging, as it looks to claw back ground in the cross-platform IM battle against apps like WhatsApp.
new daily record: 10B+ msgs sent (inbound) and 17B+ msgs received (outbound) by our users = 27 Billion msgs handled in just 24 hours!— WhatsApp Inc. (@WhatsApp) June 12, 2013
WhatsApp, by comparison, confirmed via Twitter that it had handled 27 billion messages in 24 hours, while a report from research firm Informa recently detailed that mobile IM messaging is now more prolific than SMS messaging.
Snyder declined to comment on when the update would be coming for iPhone users, stating that this was an Android announcement, but did point out that the aim was to have parity across all platforms.
Skype for Android 4.0 will be free to download from Google Play for Android 2.3.3 devices and higher.