Earlier today, Microsoft announced that it has been working on the "next generation" of Skype. With this overhaul of the Skype experience, the company hopes to embrace the best of other social apps, such as Snapchat and Messenger to bring them to its own communication platform. Originally, the company said that the update is rolling out for those on Android, however, we've recently received the update on iOS too, via TestFlight.
While Microsoft noted a few new features that will be arriving in the update, namely Highlights, Find, and Capture, we've discovered that there's actually quite a bit more to this overhaul, as noted below in some of the additional features and changes we've noticed.
New start-up and sign-in experience
While the saying usually goes "don't judge a book by its cover," it is always pleasant to see an app look good as it is loading, showing that great things await. With the new Skype experience, this definitely holds true, as the improved start-up screen and sign-in screen definitely look better than previously.
The start-up screen shows an animation of a new Skype 's' symbl being drawn out. Once complete, the app takes you straight to the new sign-in screen, which integrates directly with the Microsoft Account sign-in page, as well as offering support for using the Microsoft Authenticator app - so there's no passwords needed.
Follow other users
Perhaps taking a features of Twitter and Snapchat and hooking them together, Microsoft has already said it is adding a Highlights feature to Skype, similar to how Snapchat stories work to a degree, but what wasn't known was that, as part of Highlights, there will also be Followers functionality. This will allow you to follow people you're not necessarily connected with on Skype, so that you can view their Highlights. You'll be able to see who you're following, as well as who is following you.
Share your profile to chat with new friends
Ever had that time where someone is trying to add you on Skype but can't quite find you in the Skype Directory, or your Skype name is a little awkward to pronounce? Now, you'll be able to share a link that will ask them to chat directly with you, or sign-up for Skype if they're not already a user, meaning you won't necessarily have to remember your Skype name when communicating with new people.
More accurate "Last seen" notices
In recent times, many communication apps, including WhatsApp and Messenger, let you know when a contact was last active. This feature is usually used to see if someone is ignoring you or, as it was intended, a replacement for setting a status such as Online or Offline. Skype has, for some time, continued to use status symbols such as Online/Offline, as well as, more recently, showing if someone has been active recently. The "last seen" functionality however, wasn't so accurate, with it often saying someone is available and "active now" who actually hasn't been active for a few hours.
With the new Skype experience, this will now be more accurate and, through our own testing, can confirm that to be the case, with it being accurate within a ~3 minute window.
View all media sent to a contact
Both WhatsApp and Messenger have a similar feature, where if you go to a contacts profile, you'll be able to see all the media you've sent to that person in one handy place, negating the need to scroll through endless messages to find what you're looking for. The new Skype is also adding this feature, but going a little further. Rather than just media, you'll also be able to see links that have been sent in a conversation, so if your friend sent you a cool website a long time ago, but you don't want to scroll all the way up a conversation to find it, it's now much quicker, in addition to being able to see all photos, videos and files sent as well.
Themes and Colours
To add a more personal and customisable touch to the experience, Microsoft is adding 2 new customisability options - themes and colours. Themes will adjust how your chat looks, while colours will adjust general app aesthetics, such as button colours.
All of the above new features and changes, coupled with those that Microsoft officially announced, is going far-and-away to improve Skype - making it a more fun, social place to communicate and interact.
Those on Android, you'll be receiving all of the new features and changes shortly as the update rolls out, while iOS users should expect it in the near future (if you're on TestFlight, it is available now) - those on Windows and Mac can expect to receive it over the coming months.
To receive Skype Preview builds on iOS, you'll need to complete this form, which will send a TestFlight invitation to you, allowing you to receive the next generation Skype before general availability.