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article imageSkype is getting an overhaul that makes it work like Snapchat

By James Walker     Jun 1, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has announced the biggest update to Skype in years. The app is getting a fresh new design and new features that evolve it from a pure communications platform into a form of social media. The company has obviously taken inspiration from Snapchat.
The new Skype was introduced in a blog post today. It will be rolling out to different platforms in stages during the rest of the year. The update is initially focusing on mobile devices but the desktop app will be overhauled with the new design in the future.
The most noticeable change is to the basic look and feel of the app. The layout has been revised and the overall design focus is on typography and spacing. It uses styling cues that have obviously been taken from Microsoft's new Fluent Design Language, the company's completely reworked approach to design that will eventually roll out to all its Windows apps.
The result is a flatter, bolder and brighter Skype that emphasises colour and visual effects. When you're in a group chat, you can set colourful gradient backgrounds on your messages to make them stand out. You can also customise the entire app to use your favourite colours, letting you "show-off your personal style" within Skype.
Skype update 01-06-2017
Skype update 01-06-2017
Microsoft
These design changes have enabled the introduction of a new headline capability, Highlights. On mobile, it appears as an additional tab to the left of the central Chats view. Highlights is meant to let you "share your experiences." If that phrasing doesn't indicate where Microsoft has taken inspiration from, it should become apparent when you use the feature.
Highlights lets you upload photos and video of your day to Skype so they can be viewed by your contacts. It's built for in-the-moment access and is clearly intended to rival the recent deluge of Snapchat Stories implementations in popular messaging apps. Evidently keen to catch up with Facebook's Messenger Day and WhatsApp Status, Microsoft has made Skype into another place to share in-the-moment action.
Skype update 01-06-2017
Skype update 01-06-2017
Microsoft
It's essentially a radical upgrade of Skype's longstanding status messages that let you indicate your mood and activity to your contacts. Highlights puts the focus on social interactions though, extending Skype with a new way to stay connected when you don't want to chat or call. People who view your Highlights will be able to respond to them by sending emoticons or starting a new conversation.
The app update also emphasises the role of bots on Skype. Microsoft was one of the first to feature bots in a messaging app with the current implementation of its Bot Platform. The new design makes bots a lot more visible though, giving them a dedicated "Find" tab that exposes chat integrations while you search the web. Microsoft is also referring to them as "Add-Ins" rather than bots, using more approachable terminology that users will already be familiar with.
The overhaul is the most significant rethinking of Skype's core design and functionality in years. The once ubiquitous messaging app has come under attack from all quarters recently.
Skype update 01-06-2017
Skype update 01-06-2017
Microsoft
On the consumer side, the raft of features offered by the likes of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat has led to Skype being overlooked, particularly by younger users. Equally, Microsoft has faced competition in the business market as newcomers such as Slack have threatened Skype's long-held place in the meeting room.
The new Skype is clearly intended to address these issues, evolving the app into a modern messaging client that can comfortably sit alongside Facebook's finest. It's more skewed towards consumer use amongst friends and family than before, a change that can be attributed to the introduction of Microsoft's new Teams chat app for businesses and co-workers. This addition has given Skype a more clearly defined role that allows it to refocus on casual communication.
Skype update 01-06-2017
Skype update 01-06-2017
Microsoft
"Rebuilt from the ground up, the new Skype vastly improves the ways you can connect with your favorite people and, of course, chatting is front and center," said Microsoft. "With the new Skype, you’ll have countless ways to share life’s moments together, every day. Wherever life takes you, Skype allows you to seamlessly create, play, share, and do more with the people you care about most."
The update will start to roll out worldwide today to Android devices. In the coming weeks, it will be released to iPhone users. Microsoft confirmed that the design will eventually come to Skype for Mac, Windows desktop and the Windows Store, although the release is still a "few months" away.
More about Skype, snapchat, Messaging, facebook messenger, Chat
 
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