Enlarge / The brand new cellular interface, with its buttons alongside the underside.

In July, Microsoft made the shocking announcement that it was going so as to add helpful new options to Skype: built-in name recording, together with the end-to-end encrypted messaging and NDI API help beforehand introduced. At the moment, that drive to make Skype a greater consumer for chat and calls continues with a brand new path for the event of the consumer interface that emphasizes these core options.

This variation in path comes after there was vigorous pushback towards Microsoft’s plans to kill off legacy variations of the Skype consumer and unify each supported Skype platform on a single consumer. The brand new consumer (often called Skype for Life) is constructed utilizing Net tech (it is a JavaScript utility utilizing the React framework), and it shares core code between the standard Home windows desktop utility, the Home windows Retailer utility, the macOS and Linux apps, the iOS and Android cellular apps, and even the Net front-ends. With this unified consumer, Microsoft can add help for issues like encrypted messaging with out having to implement the identical performance a number of instances for the a number of purchasers.

Nevertheless, the customers of the standard, legacy Skype desktop utility weren’t pleased with Microsoft’s plans to power them to make use of Skype for Life. Whereas Skype for Life is the one possibility for the brand new options, corresponding to encryption and NDI help, it would not embrace sure legacy options, corresponding to the flexibility to create a number of home windows (one per chat) and a variety of on-line statuses. Furthermore, Skype for Life included and prioritized options corresponding to Snapchat-like statuses, which have not actually caught on and which pushed the issues that individuals do use Skype for—calling and messaging—into the background.

With this new concentrate on calling and messaging, the Snapchat-like statuses have been eliminated. The desktop interface is styled so much nearer to the legacy utility, and using animations and gradients has been considerably toned down. The cellular interfaces put the important thing calling and messaging buttons alongside the underside of the display, offering simpler entry to the dialer pad. The corporate is promising to reinstate different options from the legacy consumer—a number of chat home windows, better management over on-line standing and privateness, higher looking, and extra. The legacy purchasers will nonetheless be end-of-lifed, however plainly they will keep round till the characteristic disparity is resolved.

In the meantime, the end-to-end encryption functionality moved out of preview into the secure consumer a couple of weeks in the past, and immediately name recording is enabled.

It is peculiar that it has taken Microsoft this lengthy to determine the place its priorities with Skype ought to lie, however as a daily consumer of the service, this appears like a welcome change. The event of Skype has lengthy been complicated, with a number of purchasers and disparate characteristic units and improvement instructions. The consolidation on a single consumer ended a big a part of that unwelcome variance; the brand new concentrate on the options and capabilities that matter ought to imply Skype begins getting meaningfully higher on the issues that individuals use it for. That is actually extra helpful than attempting to clone Snapchat.

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