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Microsoft's Skype redesign for Android, iOS: One-tap access, better group calls


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Microsoft is simplifying Skype for Android and iOS with one-tap access to key calling features.


Image: Microsoft/Skype

Over coming weeks, Microsoft will roll out a redesigned version of Skype for iOS and Android that’s better suited to mobile devices.

A minor change in the mobile-friendly redesign for the video-chat and voice-call service is dropping the ‘Call phones’ tab and replacing it with simply ‘Calls’, which makes more sense given the recipient could just as well answer from a phone, tablet, desktop or wearable such as the Apple Watch.

Microsoft says it’s also simplifying the app with one-tap access to key calling features. The new Call tab offers access to Skype audio or video calls, and calls to mobile or landline numbers that use Skype credit.

According to Microsoft, the change will allow users to call any group or individual from the same place using a single tap. This feature will roll out to Android ahead of iOS.

A change coming to group calls means that calls will no longer be broken off for other participants if the host leaves. Now, no matter who leaves the conversation that call will continue uninterrupted.

Also, Microsoft is killing several voicemail features in response to the decline in traditional voicemail use. It’s dropping the ability to create custom voicemail greetings, email notifications and SMS transcription.

However, users can still receive voicemail by enabling the feature in the Skype account portal. It appears Microsoft doesn’t support checking voice messages in Skype for Android.

Instead, when calling contacts who are unavailable or not answering, Skype will offer the option to leave a video or chat message or retry. This feature appears to have rolled out to iOS already.

The mobile updates follow a number of changes Microsoft’s Skype team have been working on, most notably shifting away from its peer-to-peer infrastructure to Azure to give Skype better support on mobile and to enable features such as file sharing, video messaging, and mobile group video-calling.

That transition has been the source of problems, such as out-of-sync chat messages, and Skype calls ringing on multiple devices rather than just the one in use, according to Microsoft.

The other big Skype-related project Microsoft has been working on is its answer to Slack. Originally called Skype Teams, Microsoft has now renamed the product Microsoft Teams and may unveil it at an Office and collaboration-focused event scheduled for November 2, following today’s Windows and hardware event in New York City.

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