The biggest change is that chat is now front and center of what was primarily seen as a phone calling app. Skype has long had a text or messaging function, but it was sort of tacked on and not the focus.
Giving it far greater visibility makes sense given that many users are now more likely to chat via Apple (AAPL) iMessage, WhatsApp, or some other text service, than to actually make a voice call. Skype had to get with the program.
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Microsoft (MSFT) has also made it easier for users to share things— animations, emojis, video links— via chat.
Most reports about the update have likened it to Snapchat (SNAP), the popular messaging and photo sharing app. Case in point: Skype users will now be able to share video with contacts that would expire in seven days which is a very Snapchatty feature. according to Wired.
Another feature lets users “swipe” over to the camera, take a photo or a video, and then either share it with contacts or post it to what Microsoft calls “Highlights,” another new feature that is reminiscent of Snapchat Stories, which lets users create and share pictorial recaps of their day with contacts.
Users can also customize their Skype screen with their own color palette.
The update was outlined in a Microsoft blog post on Thursday, the same day Microsoft started rolling the changes out to mobile users, starting with Android devices, and then iPhones. The new versions for Windows and Mac desktops will follow over the next few months.
This update applies to the consumer version of Skype, not its Skype for Business cousin that companies typically get with their subscriptions to Microsoft Office software.