Microsoft announced a moment ago that it has released a preview version of the "next generation of Skype" which changes the software dramatically.
Released initially only for Android, but promised to land for iOS, Windows and Mac OS X later on, the new Skype Preview app is all about creating, playing, sharing, and "doing more" with the people Skype users care about according to Microsoft.
Note: The Skype Preview for Android is only available in the following countries right now: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Philippines, and Pakistan.
Microsoft describes the new Skype in the following way in the introductory paragraph on the Skype blog.
Rebuilt from the ground up, the new Skype vastly improves the ways you can connect with your favorite people and, of course, chatting is front and center. We’ve made group chats more lively, expressive, and—most importantly—personalized, so you can chat the way you want.
The new features that Microsoft touts are options to pick a color to customize Skype, the new emoticon reaction feature in chat or video calls, and the new highlights feature which allows you to create a highlight reel of photos and videos, and easy sharing.
To post a Highlight, swipe to access your camera, take a photo or video, then post it to your Highlights or send it directly to your contacts or groups. Once you post a Highlight, your friends and family can react to it with emoticons or by jumping into a conversation.
There is also the new capture feature which opens the camera right away when you activate it. You may use it to capture photos or videos, add text to them or put stickers on them before you share them with others.
Another new feature is the find panel which is supported by add-ons and bots to pull information from various sources.
Examples given are chatting with the Expedia bot to check flight times and pricing, pull ticket pricing and seating options from the StubHub bot, or weather forecasts.
With the ability to connect to your favorite businesses and brands from within the app, the simplest conversations can pave the way to lasting memories.
Here is a video by Skype that promotes the new version of the application.
The new Skype is a major change when compared to the previous offering. It looks from the outside as if Microsoft picked popular features from popular messaging and social apps and services, and added them to Skype. It remains to be seen how well the new features are received by business customers, and older Skype users who use Snapchat and other apps of its kind less.
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