The video-chat and messaging space is rife with competition, and Skype hopes its latest features will help to keep it relevant.
Once the go-to app for video chats, Skype seemed to go off the boil somewhere along the way and these days faces tough competition from a mountain of messaging apps that now incorporate their own video options.
Still, Microsoft, which acquired Skype in 2011 for more than $8 billion, is far from giving up on the service, and in recent years has been pushing out a slew of updates in a bid to keep it relevant.
The latest one rolled into the room on Thursday, bringing with it four potentially handy features that the company says provide new ways for you to express yourself during video chats and messaging sessions.
So let’s kick off with in-call reactions. Taking a leaf out of live-streaming services like Periscope and Facebook Live, it’s now possible to throw emoticons, live text, and real-time photos into your video calls in just a few taps.
Along the same lines, messaging reactions also makes it possible to quickly add stuff to chats for others to see. Skype suggests using emoticons for “voting, showing excitement, or just for fun,” or basically when you can’t be bothered to tap out a text response and you fancy adding a bit of color to the conversation.
Next up is the integrated camera. Say you’re messaging with a friend and you want to capture something there and then — simply swipe left to access your camera, take a snap, and immediately share it in the chat. You can easily add emoticons, stickers, and annotations before you hit send, too.
Finally, there’s the find panel. This lets you quickly find and share links, news, sports results, restaurants, the weather, videos, and more — without ever leaving the app. Great for you, and great for Skype, too, as it should mean you won’t get distracted by other apps so easily.
“No more switching back and forth between apps; we’re making it easy to bring the content you care about to the conversations that matter,” the Skype team said.
All of these new additions are currently being tested, but Android users can try them now by downloading the Skype Preview app from Google Play. iOS users who fancy taking the new features for a spin need to be enrolled in the Skype Insider program. Not currently a member? You can sign up here.