Microsoft’s Skype helped pioneer modern video conferencing and instant messaging. But its power has taken a backseat in recent years to the convenience of communicating via nearly ubiquitous social networking applications like Snap Inc.’s Snapchat and Apple’s iMessage.
To stay afloat, Skype announced an end-to-end overhaul of the service Thursday — with iMessage and Snapchat in its sights. The new app has Skype’s standard instant messaging service, international dialing and multiperson video calling, but it adds integration with third-party services like YouTube, simpler photo sharing, and revamped group chatting with an interface similar to Skype-owned GroupMe.
The photo-sharing view looks similar to Snapchat and allows users to draw over their pictures and share them into a Snapchat Stories-like panel called Highlights. Within chats, users can integrate weather or image apps with previews similar to the latest version of iMessage on iPhones. For the new Skype, Microsoft is rolling out chat bots, including one called Scoop, that can inject breaking news headlines into conversations.
The new Skype will be gradually released, starting out in Android devices. A new version for the iPhone will be released in about a month, Skype said. Versions for the Mac, Windows PCs, and tablets will come later.