The Skype app for iOS was a mess. But with today’s update, it’s finally getting back on track and regular updates are now on the roadmap.
Today Skype redesigned its iOS app for the first time in four years and it shows. The long-in-the-tooth incarnation of the app looked like something from iOS 4. That’s because that’s the last time the app saw a major update.
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The new and improved Skype app reduces the clutter and focuses on the current messaging trend. In fact, the bottom menu bar has only two major features; phone calls and messaging. Finding contacts, favorites, and recent calls or chats is just a left or right swipe away. It no longer takes multiple taps to start a chat with a contact. Just tap on the contact and start typing.
This is the result of Skype listening to its users and starting over. “We built a completely new app remastered around users and how they use Skype on their phones,” says Product Manager Eric Levine.
In my testing the updated Skype is quicker through menus and far less frustrating to navigate. It feels like a modern app with animation flourishes and an eye on helping the user quickly communicate with friends and family. Even when you initiate a call instead of the expected ringing, a little song plays on a loop.
But, its new focus on messaging also means it’s entering a crowded field. The company understands this and actually isn’t that worried. “I’m willing to bet on your phone right now, you have eight different messaging apps that you use on a very regular basis. We know that our users don’t use one app and there is no holy grail. Each app has it own user group or own purpose,” Levine told TNW.
Still, even though Skype has been around forever, I found it difficult to find friends to chat with. That’s really the biggest hurdle for Skype. For many it’s been a way to video chat or call friends overseas. Frankly, in the last four years, anyone looking to text chat has had hundreds of easier-to-use texting apps available to them.
The new Skype is a great step in the right direction. But for many users, it might be too late to get them to use the “video conferencing app” as a text messenger.