Monthly Archives: June 2017

The New Skype

Exactly two weeks since the last Messenger server twinkled out of existence comes the announcement of “New Skype“.  See Skype’s promotional video below:
At present, this is only an announcement and the software has not yet been released.  However from what is shown in the video, I have a few questions, observations and opinions already.Are there any (MSN or Windows Live) Messenger features?I generally evaluate new messaging clients by comparing them against Messenger’s standard set of features.  Based on what we know so far, I don’t see any sign of New Skype of backgrounds, custom emoticons, custom fonts, nudge, status (presence), or voiceclips.

New Skype Conversation

Background colours with gradients in New Skype

It does appear you can set a background colour (and gradient!) for the text of an individual message reminiscent of the background colour functions in the modern versions of Messenger Plus!.  However, it’s not entirely clear if this feature expands to allowing you to change the colour of the actual text.  In the screenshots, a background colour swapped the font colour from black to white.

 

Winks (called Stickers) do exist in New Skype and are animated, as well as the normal expected GIF support and Skype’s own “Mojis”.New Skype appears to have a Snapchat stories-like Highlights feature for material you want to share with all your contacts for a seven-day period.  Of course, this stories feature is the latest variant of what was once Messenger 2009’s “What’s new?” pane as well as 2011/2012’s social pane.Will all the problems be fixed?

Although I haven’t had a lot of exposure time to the iOS version of Skype, I have had quite a lot of time with the Android version and its whole slew of reliability and performance problems.  From time to time, I’ve resorted to uninstalling Skype on my phone because of weird glitchy behaviour that has made the phone unusable or drained the battery.  I do hope a lot of these issues have been ironed out since they’ve taken steps to drastically change the client.  Additionally, Skype recently ranked as using the most mobile data in comparison to other mobile messaging clients, and hopefully that has also been improved.

Why so much white?

Everyone I have shown the promo video to has had the same immediate reaction I did – there’s just way too much white space.

Old vs New Skype

Old Skype vs New Skype

It reminds me of Office 2013’s attempt at white everywhere in its default theme, which was also unpleasant

 

Particularly on phones, I can’t think of anyone who wants to be blinded by a mobile screen first thing in the morning or replying to a message late at night in the dark.

Although I would prefer a dark background option, I rather like the look of the current mobile Skype.  It retains the classic Skype colour and fits in with whatever native operating system it’s on.

Will it be compatible with current Skype?

I would assume yes, but it’s not explicitly mentioned anywhere.  I find it a bit weird that I would have to consider such a question, but Yahoo! had no qualms in completely eliminating its existing Yahoo! Messenger service/contact lists last year in favour of the “new Yahoo! Messenger”.

What about the desktop version?

As part of the announcement is Windows and Mac versions.  I do wonder if the Windows version will be yet another variant of Skype.  At present, there are two Skype Windows versions – the classic Win32 version you download from the website and the new Universal Windows version (excluding Skype for Business versions as that operates on local servers or Office 365).  At the very least, I would assume New Skype to also be written for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP).

I use the Win32 version of Skype, primarily because it does have a (albeit limited) API that ties in with my headset’s software, notifying the headset base of calls, allowing a button on the headset to answer calls and an LED to let others around me know I’m in a call with someone. On top of that, the Win32 version provides a local message history spanning all the way back to my first main use of Skype, I can log into multiple accounts at once and particularly important, my taskbar icon for Skype lights up when I get a message (a feature not available in Universal Windows applications at present).

I don’t think any of the features in New Skype would be compelling enough to lose such valuable features from the classic version of Skype.

Final thoughts

Overall, this update appears to be an attempt to “keep up” with the other modern messaging services today and less about trying anything particularly new or interesting.  When the New Skype does get released in some form, I’ll do another comparison.

For now though my advice to the Skype team is simple, please, please, please provide a dark theme option.