Skype has undergone more redesigns than Hot Dinner over the past five years, but Microsoft is still ready to try to change things up once again. The software maker is planning a “better, faster, reliable and super modern looking Skype”. Microsoft says it is listening to feedback and will begin making changes to modernize Skype over the next few months.
The most important part of Skype, which Microsoft calls the call stage, is getting the most attention. The grid that is displayed during the call will soon include everyone on the call, whether they have video enabled or not. It puts all participants together, including your own videos, in the main interface.
Microsoft is also adding new themes and layouts to this view, providing some much-needed customization to the main calling interface in Skype. You’ll be able to choose between Speaker View, Grid View, Large Gallery, Together Mode, and even Content View – with options to only show video enabled ones.
Skype’s new colorful theme will be available soon, featuring button gradients, an improved side panel on mobile, and Fluent Design icons throughout the app. Skype users without avatars will also get colored gradients, which will make it easier to tell chats apart.
However, this is not the only design change. “While we love the design changes, we knew they weren’t enough,” acknowledged the Skype team in a blog post detailing the changes. “We need to focus on performance to make the experience enjoyable.” Microsoft claims it is increasing performance by more than 2,000 percent in “key scenarios” on the Android version and over 30 percent on the desktop versions of Skype.
Microsoft is also making a commitment to support all browsers with its future Skype changes. “We believe the Skype experience should be seamless, accessible and reliable, no matter what browser or device you’re using, so we’re adding support for all browsers,” the Skype team says. “We want to make sure that no matter what device, platform or browser you are using, Skype will always provide you with a great experience.”
Some of these improvements are live now, while others will be implemented in the coming months. Custom notification sounds are part of the new features right away, while a new TwinCam feature that lets you add your phone camera to a call appears to be coming later.
Microsoft is certainly focusing on a wide range of improvements for Skype. This is the latest redesign of Skype since Microsoft began tweaking things in early 2014, followed by a Snapchat-like design in 2017, another redesign in 2018 that killed off radical Snapchat-like changes, and more on desktop and mobile. A lot too. The apps have undergone a lot of changes since then.
It’s amazing to see another facelift, albeit a minor one. Microsoft has hinted at a focus on Microsoft Teams over the past year, in an effort to lure consumers to Teams. Microsoft’s struggle with Skype created a Zoom moment last year at the start of the pandemic, and the company has tried to take advantage of Teams and its free all-day video calling as an answer to Zoom for consumers.