Skype Reveals Redesigned iOS App With Chat Bots and Snapchat-Like ‘Highlights’ Feature

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Microsoft today
introduced
an enhanced, all-new version of Skype for iOS and
Android devices that puts an emphasis on chats, chatbots, camera
features, and its own version of Snapchat’s Stories. The update
comes with an overall change to Skype’s visual design as well,
with the company stating that it’s decided to focus on allowing
personal user choice to dictate how sections of the app look,
including the ability to customize the app with your favorite
color.

Skype’s home screen now sits with a “Chat” window on launch,
and users can easily swipe to the Camera and new “Highlights”
feature, which is an extended version of Stories. Here, users
can take a picture or video, decorate it with emojis and text,
and then post it to their Highlight. After posting, content is
available for a full week instead of just 24 hours, and only
users who follow you can see your Highlight. Specific
individuals and groups can also be sent a Highlight before it’s
posted.


Skype has also introduced Facebook-like reactions to both chats
and Highlights, allowing users to select emojis to react to
messages, pictures, and videos without having to text. In a
talk with
TechCrunch
, Skype didn’t balk at admitting it was
inspired by Snapchat Stories, pointing out Facebook’s own
argument that the “Story” model is a format that can be used by
anyone in the industry and isn’t owned by Snapchat.

Highlights are Skype’s own take on Stories – something the
company readily admits. “It’s like Facebook has said,” says
Amritansh Raghav, Corporate Vice President of Skype,
referencing remarks made by Facebook’s VP of messaging David
Marcus, who recently argued that Stories “is definitely a
format, the same way the feed is a format.”

Raghav agrees. The feed is now commonly used in a range of
apps – even those that aren’t personal social networks, like
Microsoft’s business communications service Yammer. “There’s
a new medium that has risen,” he says of Stories. “When you
think about this new way of interacting, [we want that to be]
available also in this application.”

Microsoft is also introducing its smart assistant
Cortana into Skype, providing shortcuts to users in texts and
suggesting quick responses. Other bots, or “add-ins,” include
Gfycat, Giphy, MSN Weather, Bing, Polls, Expedia, Stubhub,
BigOven, YouTube, and Upworthy.


Less emphasized in the update are Skype’s traditional video call
features, although they have received a few overhauls as well.
Users will now be able to send large emojis over video chats, as
well as text messages, stickers, and photos that appear as an
overlay on the screen. Skype said that in the future it plans to
introduce gaming features into video calls and the ability to
synchronize and watch streaming videos together, rumored to begin
with videos from YouTube, similar
to Google’s own UpTime app
.

The Skype update launches on Android first today, and is set to
roll out to iOS devices in about a month. Mac and Windows
devices will receive the update sometime within the next few
months.

Source: appleact.com
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