Skype gets a makeover
When you think of “video chat”, you think of Skype. The video calling application has been downloaded over a billion times on smartphones alone since 2012, when tech giant Microsoft purchased the platform for $8.5bn.
Though Skype hasn’t had a significant update since 2006, when it first introduced the video calling feature. All the while, competing applications have emerged offering similar services, such as Facebook Messenger and Apple’s FaceTime. Users were found to be using Skype once or twice a week to video chat, whilst using Facebook or Google’s apps on a daily basis. Skype corporate vice president Amritansh Raghav recognised the need for evolution however, and stated; “We don’t think Skype can rest on its legacy”.
Last week Microsoft updates Skype for the Snapchat generation. The video calling app refreshed its look and added several new features to its video and text chat service. Though the upgrade will initially only be available to Android users, with updates to iOS, Mac and Windows apps coming later this year.
Similar to Facebook’s introduction of personalised colour schemes for status updates, Skype now allows its users to set their own colour theme for their contact list. The most notable update however is the new Highlights feature on the left that is similar to that of the Snapchat Stories format. Raghav described the Highlights feature as a response to what Skype’s users have been asking for. Though there is an important distinction; Highlights last a full week rather than the usual 24 hours offered on Snapchat.
Additionally, a panel on the right hand side allows users to access the camera from almost anywhere in the app. Users will also be able to decorate images and videos with stickers, doodles and text. Conversations now also feature a ‘Find’ tab that lets you search and share content from the web or from within new add-ins apps, such as Gifs, YouTube videos or stickers.
Meanwhile the web search feature accesses results from Bing, providing users with a convenient method of sharing restaurants or locations without having to leave the app. For further assistance, bots have also been added within the app to provide users with any information they may require.
The update has significantly transformed the video calling app. Rather than simple video feeds, Skype wants your video conversations to be just as engaging and emotive as your text chats. As such users will now be able to share photos and memories within the video stream without interrupting the conversational flow. Moreover Skype has added a variety of Facebook-like reactions which users will be able to use during chats.
Whilst Raghav maintains that Skype is not trying to become the next Snapchat, it is clear the new features will help Skype remain on-par with its competitors.
Raghav highlights that the upgrade seeks to enhance the relationships between its users and ultimately encourages those video chatting to stay on the line longer.