Skype long ago gave up on trying to be a “simple” videoconferencing app in favor of being something like an all-in-one communication solution: IM, VoIP, stickers, photo collages, you name it. With the new 8.0 update its social dimension is now more powerful than ever, with all the menus being completely redesigned and with new features being added that bring it even closer to competitors like Snapchat and Instagram.
The shakeup to the official Skype app for Android gives a thorough facelift to the interface, which is now much easier to handle and gives intuitive access to all your go-to features. The main change is a system of “highlights” that includes a sort of profile you can view for other users (and other users can view for you). And what do you share on that profile? Well, the ‘stories’ of your day-to-day. Yep, just like Snapchat disappearing messages and Instagram stories – complete with geostickers, post-processing effects, and all the paraphernalia you’ll already be familiar with from the competitor apps.
At the organizational level, the intentions of Skype are clear, as now the app is sustained on three pillars accessible from tabs up top. In the middle is the standard history with your video and audio calls and chat threads. On the right side is the app’s built-in camera that lets you take a photo and apply the effects mentioned above. From there you can either send the media you create to a specific person (or several), or post it openly on your wall. And as if all that weren’t enough, the left-side tab takes you to a timeline of all the ‘stories’ made by your Skype contacts.
Beyond all this, the creation and management of groups, the enormous number of bots, the themes for the interface, or the extra services like the restaurant search or ticket reservations (availability varies by country, of course) make the new Skype a daring gambit by Microsoft that has many open fronts – with lots of competitors on every one of them. Still, nobody’s denying that Skype gets a ton of use and sees constant growth. These additions sure can’t hurt the app.
At the moment the released version of Skype 8.0 is solely compatible with Android 7.0 or higher, but by the end of the day it should be available for devices running older versions of Android, too.