Microsoft bought Skype nearly six years ago, and to be honest, it feels like the service hasn't changed much since.
Sure, it's moved from a peer-to-peer service to the cloud, and it’s rolled out some design changes and features, such as free group video calling and Skype for Web, but in a world that is now dominated with messaging challengers like Slack, FaceTime, iMessage, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and more, it somehow feels a bit antiquated. We at Pocket-lint even ditched Skype for Slack.
In attempt to stop more users from fleeing the service, and perhaps inject a little excitement into it as well, Microsoft is redesigning Skype. The new update, which is touted as “the next generation of Skype", is all about messaging - even though Skype is known for video and audio calls. Here's everything you need to know about the all-new Skype, including what's changed and whether it is better now.
What is Skype?
Skype is a communications service owned by Microsoft. It offers text, voice, and video calling. You can use it on your phone, computer, or even a TV. It is free to start using Skype, and you can can even try out group video, but if you pay to upgrade, you can do more things, like call phones. Check out Skype's website to learn more information. Pocket-lint also has an entire Skype hub with related articles.
What's changed in Skype?
Find and Chat
Microsoft said it rebuilt Skype from "the ground up" - with chatting features finally front and center. The new Skype messaging interface now shows three sections in a conversation: find, chat, and capture. Find lets you search in a conversation, whether you want to find images, restaurants, or tie-ins like Giphy, while Chat is the basic conversation view with options for emoji and images, etc.
Capture is the newest and most interesting section. It's kind of like Snapchat, but it's inside Skype. It opens the camera to let you take pictures or video. If you're shooting a video, you'll see a curvy line that shows the amount of time for a recording. You'll also see this line when calling or when contacts are typing. After you've captured a video or picture, you can add effects like stickers and text and more.
There's also a new Highlights feature, which reminds us of Snapchat stories. With it, you can share a stream of photos and videos that others can see and react with emoticons. Skype also lets you react to text and video conversations. During calls, for instance, you can drag and drop people around and then just tap on the reaction icon next to any message or video call to express how you feel.
To post a Highlight, swipe to access your camera, then take a photo or video, and post it to your Highlights or send it directly to your contacts or groups. Check out Skype's FAQ page here for more information on how to post a Highlight.
Is Skype better now?
Microsoft has been tweaking Skype here and there over the years, trying different ways to get people to use Skype instead of the growing list competitors. Skype Qik, for instance, was a way to conquer mobile video messaging, but that didn't work out. Nevertheless, people all over still use Skype for video and audio calls. Microsoft has the users and brand, it just needs to make Skype cool again.
That's where this redesign comes in - but, unfortunately, it just copies Snapchat, which is something Facebook has been trying to do for years, and seems to be failing at, to be frank. Still, we think universal search, a simple user interface, fresh design, and new features are exciting. It made us re-open the app after a long while, but will we drop Snapchat or Messenger for it? Probably not.
When will the new Skype roll out?
Microsoft is rolling out the new Skype to Android mobile devices first, followed by iOS, Windows, and Mac.