A few weeks ago, Microsoft started to roll out the new Skype experience to Android users, bringing a completely redesigned app with some interesting Snapchat-like features. iPhone users have also been able to test the next generation app by joining the Skype Insider program, but the new experience is finally rolling out to select iPhones today.
Unfortunately, the version 8.1 of Skype for iPhone requires iOS 9.0 or later, and you'll also need an iPhone 5S or a more recent model to download it. It seems that Microsoft is excluding all iPhone models with 32-bit SoCs from receiving the update, and the Skype for iPad app (which is separate from the Skype for iPhone client) as yet to receive the new design.
Here are the main new features introduced with the new Skype experience:
- In-Call Reactions: You can now add live emoticons, live text and even real-time photos to your video and voice calls.
- Message Reactions: Let your contacts know how you feel by adding expressive reactions to their messages.
- Capture: Sharing photos and videos of precious moments are just a swipe away.
- Highlights: Share your day-to-day with friends and family while keeping up with what they are up to using highlights. You can easily respond to others' highlights by reacting with emoticons or even use them as a conversation-starter.
Overall, reviews of the next generation Skype app on iOS and Android have not been great so far, with many users complaining about the inability to see at a glance which contacts are online or not. The new "Highlights" feature, which is obviously inspired by Snapchat Stories may also confuse users who just used Skype as a basic messaging and video calling app. Time will tell if this big redesign was what Skype needed to catch up with more popular alternatives such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
The Skype team previously said that the new Skype experience will roll out to Windows and macOS at some point, and we can't wait to see how all these new features will be implemented on the desktop. Let us know your thoughts about the new Skype app in the comments below.