Microsoft pushed out Build 15031 to Windows Insiders on the Fast Ring just about four weeks back. It wasn’t a particularly feature-rich update, but there was one part of the update that stood out: the Compact Overlay.
Compact Overlay, of course, continues Microsoft’s terrible tradition of naming simple features something silly. It’s a Picture-in-Picture mode that works with UWP apps that add support for it.
Always on Top
We talked about Compact Overlay in detail when Build 15031 was released to the Insiders – you can read that here. The Picture-in-Picture feature attempts to bring back some resemblance of what was already quite possible with the standard Win32 applications on Windows.
A standard Win32 application can choose to be Always on Top – with or without user consent – but that doesn’t work with UWP. UWP is all about giving control to the user, and thus limits this ability.
Compact Overlay is an alternative – it’s similar, but somewhat improved. The idea is to allow UWP apps to be always on top in a small Windows, resembling the Picture-in-Picture mode present in most modern televisions.
Since the app must explicitly support this feature, the developer must also design an interface for the Compact Overlay. So, the Films & TV app on Windows 10, for example, shows the play/pause/seek controls.
Today’s update for Skype Preview adds the Compact Overlay support. It’s now possible to use Skype in this fancy Picture-in-Picture mode.
The feature works exactly as expected. It’s possible to start a video call and put the Skype Preview app in the Compact Overlay mode. The video stays up in a corner while the user can use the PC for something else.
Skype also shows a few controls and details in the Compact Overlay mode, such as the hang-up and mute buttons.
Whilst the Skype Preview app is available to all Windows 10 users; the Compact Overlay feature is only available to Windows 10 Insiders. Therefore, only the Insiders have access to this Skype update.
If you wish to take Compact Overlay out for a spin, you will need to be on Windows 10 Build 15031 or newer.
If you would rather stick to the production Windows 10 build; the Skype Preview update and Compact Overlay will roll out as part of the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update.
Wait, is all one can do.