Skype Gets Major Update; Brings Snapchat Story-Like “Highlights” & Add-ins/Bots Like Allo
After Snapchat blew up in 2015 and 2016, a lot of rivals started copying the service because of how interested it kept the users. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all copied Snapchat blatantly and went further ahead with improved features.
Now, joining this bandwagon is Skype. The Microsoft-owned company has just released a fresh update to its app and made it more engaging for the users. The user interface has been refreshed to make it simpler and more lively.
“We’ve made group chats more lively, expressive, and—most importantly—personalized, so you can chat the way you want. 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 company says.
What are these updates?
In the redesigned app, you will see three tabs on the top – Highlights, Chats and Capture. Your chats will have all the groups or people you have been talking to. The first and the most prominent change is the way you communicate with people. You can now customise Skype conversations in whatever colour you want.
By tapping on the reaction icon next to any message or video call, you can now easily express how you feel at any time. You can add any emoticon to the photo or the video just shared on the chat, in real time.
The second biggest change is the addition of ‘Highlights’ feature. To post a Highlight, swipe to access your camera, take a photo or video, then post it to your Highlights or send it directly to your contacts or groups. This feature is similar to the DM feature in Instagram, and you can react to the Highlight through individual chats as well.
Unlike other platforms, photos and videos added to Highlights stay for 7 days for others to view and relish. The company hasn’t talked much about stickers or filters available on the platform.
The third major update is the addition of add-ins and bots within the chats. Buy tickets for a concert, find mind-blowingly delicious recipes or even plan your next trip around the world. You can also quickly find and drop useful information into the conversation.
The new “Find” panel makes Skype infinitely searchable. Get the StubHub bot for game ticket prices and seating, Expedia bot for flight tickets and prices, YouTube add-in to search for specific videos and BigOven add-in for pulling up recipes on the chat. Skype will continue to add bots and add-ins to its chat platform, like having a personal assistant on Google Allo.
Skype update is coming first to mobile, and then to desktop. It will be available first on Android devices, releasing gradually over the coming weeks, followed by the new version for iPhone. Versions for Windows and Mac will be released over the next few months.
Even though Skype has put in a lot of effort to make its chat at par with rivals, it doesn’t stand out in any matter. I don’t see a point in using Skype more than Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, because these services also offer audio and video calling, and have these new features for very long now.
Skype hasn’t been very successful in India either, so this latest update is not going to make a huge impact on people’s lives. Unless Skype strengthens its VoIP feature in India, it won’t be able to acquire many users on its platform.