The Skype app for Android is a mess. That’s the nicest way to put it. It’s not an entirely stable app; and while it does have all the features one would expect from a Skype app, it has the potential to be much more.
Microsoft launched a Skype Insider program in November last year. Since then, the Insider Preview app has received minor updates but nothing quite noteworthy – until today.
Today, the Skype team has released an enormous (20 MB) update that completely – at least, on the surface – revamps Skype for Android.
The screenshot above looks nothing like the Skype app we are used to; from the icons to the layout, everything is new.
As far as the features go, the new app has almost all the features that the old app did, which makes us wonder whether this update was merely a redesign or a complete overhaul. It’s most likely the former, but hopefully, there are plenty of changes under the hood to make the app more stable than its previous iterations.
There are, however, a few new features that aren’t present in any other Skype client yet.
Skype now has Bing integrated into the chat. The feature seems to be inspired by Google’s Allo, where the search giant tried – and failed – to insert a search bot into regular conversations.
Although, it’s not exactly like Allo; once you open a conversation, the Bing tab will appear on the left. You can quickly search for whatever you want within this tab, including a quick search for certain services like YouTube and Giphy.
This feature appears to be extendable, meaning that the user could add more such services in future.
Skype has taken a cue from Slack and its own Microsoft Teams product and added ‘Reactions’ to Skype. The feature works exactly as one would expect.
It’s not entirely useful in 1-to-1 conversations, but can be quite healthy in group conversations.
The Minor Stuff
It is a complete design overhaul, and beside the new (smooth) fancy animations and an entirely redesigned layout, there are a few other changes. Here’s a list of what we could find:
- The Skype ring tone and dial tone has changed to something a bit flatter.
- Android’s Share UI doesn’t show Skype as a share option anymore. This is most likely a bug that will be rectified in future updates.
- Some emoji’s that no longer work on other versions of Skype (e.g.: ‘(finger)’) still work in the Preview app.
The Preview app is only accessible by Skype Insiders for the moment. You can read more about the Skype Insider program in our coverage from when it was announced.
Whether the new app fixes the stability issues that plague the current Skype for Android app will require more time to determine, but, for now, it seems to be on the right track.