Microsoft today announced a big update to Skype for Android, with a particular focus on tablets. You can download the new version now directly from Google Play.

First and foremost, Android tablet users have received a new Skype user interface (support for the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX tablets is a go but the Kindle-specific update will be available later this month). The company says the app now puts conversations first, displaying your most recent calls and chats.

skype 4 4 tablet messaging1 730x456 Skype for Android redesigned for tablets, sees orientation tweaks and up to 4x higher resolution for video calls

It’s also worth noting that the new version brings “all the quality and performance advancements that the total rewrite of version 4.0 brought to phone users,” according to Skype. It took a long time, but Android phones and tablets are now on the same Skype level.

Furthermore, all Android users are receiving improved video call quality. Skype is claiming it has up to four times the resolution of previous versions (assuming good network conditions), with enhanced clarity and frame rates.

Other changes and improvements in Skype 4.4 for Android:

  • Accessibility improvements with full support for TalkBack screen reader.
  • Updates that address incoming call issues, including one that was causing phones to reboot.
  • Additional changes to audio routing.
  • Display and UX enhancements when switching orientation.

In other words, this is the biggest Skype for Android release since version 4.0. If you haven’t updated for a while, this is the version you’ll want to get.

Microsoft is making the smart move in regularly updating its Android app, especially given that Google is pushing very hard with Hangouts. Given how cross-platform both messaging apps are, the next communication battle will likely be between the two, so standing still is not an option.

See also – Microsoft redesigns Skype for iOS 7, makes accessibility and VoiceOver improvements and Windows Phone 7 user? Microsoft just dropped support for Skype.

Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble