In an unexpected twist, Microsoft announced today that it is planning several new features for Skype, its consumer communications platform. What’s so unexpected about that, you ask? Well, Microsoft has been planning to kill off Skype in lieu of Microsoft Teams for years. But now it says that Skype is “here to stay.”
“Skype has been in our lives for nearly two decades, and we are here to stay,” an unattributed post to the Skype Blogs reads. “We care about all of you, our Skype users, so we … [have] plans for an improved, faster, reliable, and super modern-looking Skype.”
Here’s what’s coming to the walking dead:
Calling stage modernization. Microsoft is adding new layouts, beautiful theming, and other new features to the Skype calling stage, which is its weird name for the interface you see when you’re conversing with one or more other people. You will be able to see yourself on the main view during a call, view multiple people with a more natural grid, disable the video stream, and hide audio-only participants from the calling stage.
Other modern features. The chat header is getting updated with a new layout, a group avatar, and button gradients. The left side panel in the main Skype window is likewise being redesigned with Fluent icons throughout. And Skype will support vibrant new color themes.
Improved Meet Now. This Windows 10-only feature is being redesigned to be even lighter weight, easier to use, and better looking.
Browser support. The web version of Skype will natively support “all browsers,” Microsoft says, alongside icons of Edge, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.
Office Lens on iOS. The iPhone version of Skype is getting camera improvements thanks to Office Lens so you can “capture your memories, create videos or scan documents, whiteboards and business cards in the smartest way.”
TwinCam. This intriguing feature will let Skype users add a second camera—perhaps on their smartphones—to a call so you can show two things at once.
Notification sounds customization. Microsoft will let users choose their own notification sounds.
New reactions chooser. Using a new reactions chooser, you will be able to choose any emotion and react within two seconds. Microsoft claims. It will also support search, reactions organization, and pinned items.
PSTN translation. Skype Universal Translator will be able to translate phone calls on the fly between languages. It supports all languages and works on landlines as well as video calls.
Improved performance. Skype is about to get 30 percent faster on desktop and an incredible 2000 percent faster on Android thanks to modernizing the media stack.
I’m honestly not sure what to make of this, given the years-long push to improve Teams and bring it to consumers. But it appears as if Skype isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.