Microsoft this morning announced a redesign of Skype that will look pretty familiar to Snapchat users.
Billed by the company as the “next generation of Skype” the changes bring a host of new features, focused on personalizing calling and chatting with friends and family and sharing experiences. Users can customize the app with their favorite colors and react within chats and calls through “emoticons.”
A new feature that is drawing the biggest comparison to Snapchat is called Highlights. Swiping over to the new Stories-like feature automatically opens the camera and “lets you create a highlight reel of your day with photos and videos, so you can share everyday moments,” according to the Skype blog post. The Stories-like concept has been a popular one as Facebook has integrated a similar feature into its various properties like Instagram and Messenger.
Another new feature called Capture is also camera-focused. It lets users take a photo or video, add stickers or texts and then drop it into a chat.
Microsoft released its first series of bots for Skype last year, and the company said they are even more integrated into the updated app. Microsoft gave a couple examples: groups can bring in ticket and seating information to a concert they want to attend via a StubHub bot, or look at travel accommodations through an Expedia bot, or plan the next big group meal via an add-in from BigOven. There’s even an avocado toast reference, so hip. Microsoft said it will continue to add new bots to Skype all the time.
Microsoft is beginning to roll out the new Skype today, first on mobile devices and later on desktops. Android users will get the redesigned app first over the next few weeks, followed by a release on iOS. Then over the next few months, the service will roll out to Windows and Mac desktops.
Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 for $8.5 billion. The move has generally been considered one of its more successful acquisitions, but not everyone agrees. Over the years, Microsoft has added new features to Skype and sought to get it on as many devices as possible in a bid to stand out from an increasingly large field of competitors.
Microsoft competes in the enterprise communication realm as well, and earlier this year it introduced Teams to go with the popular Skype for Business. It is locked in a battle with tech giants like Amazon and Google, as well as hot upstarts like Slack.