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article imageMicrosoft's new app strips Skype back to basics for India

By James Walker     Feb 23, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has launched a new Skype app aimed at users who struggle with limited data plans and patchy network connectivity. Skype Lite is a basic version of the popular messaging app that's smaller to install and uses less data.
Skype Lite is the finished version of Skype Mingo, an app Microsoft launched in December with the same purpose. The app is only available in India where Skype usage is high but many consumers struggle to find a dependable connection. According to Microsoft, Lite is "built in India, for users in India."
The app weighs in at only 13MB, reducing the data required to download Skype and get started on the platform. It also saves storage space on the low-end Android phones that dominate the mobile scene. Heavy optimisations keep the app responding quickly on underpowered hardware without draining large amounts of battery.
Skype Lite can be used for basic Skype messages, voice calls and video calls. Microsoft has implemented a data use reduction mode that minimises video calling's impact on the user's cellular plan. Data consumption limits can be used to prevent Skype incurring carrier charges. A chart in the app's sidebar shows its total data usage across a specifiable timespan.
Skype Lite also includes Aadhaar integration, an India-specific system of personal identification. Users can add their 12-digit national identification number to the app so other callers can verify their identity. The data can be used during calls for authentication. All accessed information is deleted when the call ends.
Microsoft Skype Lite
Microsoft Skype Lite
Microsoft
As well as its basic Skype functionality, the app includes a few additional features to make it easier to use. It can be used to send and receive SMS messages, capable of registering as the phone's default SMS app. There's also the ability to pin shortcuts to contacts to Android's home screen.
Some features of the Lite app, including the optional dark theme, aren't available on the full Skype app. There isn't much else of note though as adding more options could reduce performance.
Skype Lite isn't the first no-frills version of a mobile app to be unveiled by a major tech company. Unable to reduce the size of their rapidly growing services, developers have been forced to start building alternative editions for regions where feature bloat could make an app unusable. In some ways, these apps express the values at the core of their original concepts, stripping back the original design to the minimum required functionality.
Although Microsoft is only officially launching Skype Lite in India, it can be downloaded in other regions around the world using the APK package. If you struggle to stay within your data plan or often visit places with poor network coverage, keeping Skype Lite installed could help you to stay connected. In India, the app is available from the Google Play Store. Everyone else can download the app from APKMirror, provided you're comfortable installing software from external sources.
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