Skype recounts year of “highlights and milestones”

Laurent Giret

After completing the transition from a peer-to-peer infrastructure to a cloud-based one, 2017 has been another year of profound changes for Skype. The team has been working hard to modernize the ubiquitous messaging and VOIP app, and some of the changes have certainly been difficult to accept for power users.

Still, as Microsoft is getting ready to introduce more changes and new features in 2018, the Skype team took the time to look back at this year’s highlights and milestones today. Obviously, the main news this year was the release of the new Skype experience, which came first on mobile platforms before rolling out to Windows, macOS and Linux.

The new Skype app lets you choose your theme and accent color, react to messages using emoticons, send money via Paypal and more. “All of these updates were inspired by a simple goal: to make Skype the center of your important conversations with your personal networks and, hopefully, empower you to turn your everyday conversations into experiences,” the team explained in the blog post.

On mobile, you can also use Skype add-ins to share Gifs, create polls, find local restaurants and more. Let’s not forget about Skype Highlight’s, Microsoft’s take on Snapchat Stories (now with Snapchat-like photo effects as well) which shows the company’s ambition to turn Skype into a lightweight social network.

There is still no complete feature parity between all Skype apps today: Highlights and Skype add-ons are still mobile-only, and the Skype for Windows 10 app still has a different feature set and design compared to the new Win32 app. Additionally, the new Skype experience has yet to be released on iPads and Android tablets.

The Skype UWP app (left) next to the new Win32 app (right).

Moreover, Skype has launched a new Skype Lite app for Indian users, which is optimized for 2G networks and locations with poor connectivity. This version also has exclusive features such as SMS Insights, which aggregates the relevant information from your text messages and automatically sort them in smart categories such as Shopping, Travel and more.

Since the new Skype experience has been created from the ground up, the team also had to temporarily discontinue the Skype apps for Android Wear and the Apple Watch. “We’re working hard to make support for wearables, and other platforms available,” Microsoft explains in a support page. In the meantime, Skype became available on the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker this year, which is the first time we see Skype being expanded to ambient devices.

It’s also worth noting that the Skype didn’t abandon professionals and power users this year. On Windows and macOS, it’s still possible to download “classic Skype” if you miss the ability to open multiple chat Windows, get notifications when your contacts go online and more. For professionals, Microsoft added a code editor to the Skype web app for coding interviews. The Skype Professional account, a new desktop client with special features for remote service providers is also available in preview in the US.

It’s been quite some time since Microsoft announced that Skype had crossed 300 million monthly active users. We doubt that Skype can ever catch up to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, which both have 1 billion monthly active users, but the Skype Android did pass 1 billion downloads on the Google Play Store two months ago. Skype is the first Microsoft Android app to reach this milestone, so this is definitely a big deal for Microsoft’s mobile strategy.

“We look forward to continuing to expand the ways Skype can make your life easier, more productive, and fun in 2018,” the Skype explained today. “We are committed to always continuing to innovate, listening to customer feedback, and pushing the boundaries of technology.” What features would you like added to Skype in 2018? Sound off in the comments below.