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By Abhay V
Skype 8.64 brings message reactions' customization for all, share sheet updates on iOS
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft has begun rolling out a new version of Skype to all users, bumping up the version to 8.64. This update comes almost two months after rolling out version 8.62 that brought replaceable backgrounds for the desktop and a new grid view for video calls. Version 8.63 was released earlier this month, but only contained bug fixes and no new features.
Skype 8.64 isn’t a major update either, since it brings just one new significant feature that lets users customize the message reaction picker in the app. Users can now hit the ‘Customize’ icon to tailor all the reaction that they want displayed to quickly access them when reacting to messages. This feature is rolling out to all versions of Skype, including on the desktop and mobile clients.
The Redmond firm also adds that it has tweaked some keyboard shortcuts to “fix a bug between Skype and Terminal”. In addition to that, Skype for iOS users can now directly share content with Skype contacts from the share tray. Unfortunately, that function is not present for Windows 10 users because it was removed when the React Native-based version of the app was replaced with the Electron version back in June. The share sheet on Microsoft’s OS does not display Skype as a share target.
The rest of the improvements in version 8.64 bring the usual bug fixes and stability improvements for all the platforms. The company says that the update is rolling out gradually to all users, so it could be a few days till the update shows up for everyone.
By Jefferson Mangubat
Microsoft testing 'Meet now' button for Skype and recommended search in Edge Canary
by Jefferson Mangubat
Microsoft appears to be experimenting with a couple of new features on the Canary builds of Edge. One of these features makes it easier for users to make a Skype call through a "Meet now" button in the browser's new tab page.
The new capability seems to be available only to some users of Edge Canary, appearing just below its search bar. Clicking on the button brings users to a page where they can start a meeting via Skype, with a unique link that they can share with those whom they want to invite to the video conference. That means there's no signup required for other users to join a meeting. Twitter user Florian B also shared some screenshots showing how the new feature worked.
Additionally, Edge Canary is showing recommended searches below the search bar in the new tab page. Like the Meet now button, this still appears to be part of a test and it's available only to some users of Edge's preview versions. There is also an option to turn these recommendations off if you don't like to see them.
The new test follows a recent vertical tab testing in Edge Canary builds that was spotted last week. That test was also available to some users of the Canary builds of Edge. There's no official word, though, on when these features will become available to everyone.
Skype 8.62 adds preset replaceable backgrounds on desktop, new grid view for video calls
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft is rolling out a new update for its Skype apps, just under one month after the last update was released. That update, version 8.61, replaced the React Native version of Skype that used to be available on the Microsoft Store with one based on Electron, similar to the desktop version you can find on the Skype website.
Version 8.62 is a lot tamer in terms of new features, and they mostly revolve around video calls, taking inspiration from Microsoft's own Teams service. After recently adding the ability to replace the background behind you during a call, Skype also now has a series of preset images you can choose as a default background, rather than asking you to upload your own - though you can still do that if you want to.
There are also improvements to the grid view during group calls. On mobile devices, you'll now be able to see up to 9 people at once, and on desktop, that number is being increased from 9 to 12. Perhaps more importantly, though, Microsoft says it made improvements to message sync for some chats that might not have been updating.
Aside from that, there's not a lot that's new here, and with Microsoft readying a consumer-oriented version of Teams, it seems likely that Skype will be less and less of a focus as time goes on.
Microsoft officially replaces React Native-based Skype on Windows 10 with Electron version
by João Carrasqueira
Today, Microsoft announced that Skype version 8.61 is now available on all supported platforms, bringing along the usual set of new features. More notably, however, along with Skype 8.61, Microsoft is updating Skype for Windows 10 from version 14 to version 15. The secondary version number follows the same system we've been seeing so far, so you'll see both version 8.61 and version 15.61 in the settings.
This new version for Windows 10 replaces the React Native app with Electron, similar to the desktop app you could download from Skype's website. This change was spotted earlier this year by Skype Insiders, but now it will be available for everyone. Aside from changing the technology the app is built on, the new version has a few new capabilities, according to a support page:
However, the new app is also missing some features, specifically related to the integration with Windows 10 features. The app doesn't work with the Windows 10 share charm, and it won't sync your contacts with the People app.
Aside from that, there are a couple of new features on different platforms. On desktop, it's now possible to select and delete multiple contacts at once. As for mobile devices, iPhone and iPad users can now blur the background during a video call, while Android users can look forward to Android Auto support so they can hear messages read aloud, and reply hands-free. Of course, there's the usual slew of bug fixes and improvements.
Skype version 8.60 adds moderated groups and 3x3 video call grid
by João Carrasqueira
Despite the announcement of a consumer version of Teams, Microsoft recently said it doesn't plan to phase out Skype anytime soon, especially in light of increased usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company says it will keep adding features to Skype, and true to its word, it is currently rolling out Skype version 8.60, which is one of the more significant updates the service has seen recently.
The new version should be available soon for all platforms where Skype is supported, and most of the new features are also supported on every platform. There's a single exception, and that's the newly-added support for viewing nine video call participants on screen at the same time. Microsoft brought this feature to Teams first, and it lets users view a 3x3 grid of video feeds from each of the people on the call. This feature is, as you'd expect, exclusive to desktop versions of the app.
Another major new feature in this release is support for moderated groups, and the name is fairly self-explanatory. It lets you create a group where select users can be administrators, helping you control the flow of the conversation. In these groups, only administrators can start calls, for example. If you had a previously-created group chat with assigned roles, it will automatically become a moderated group.
Other changes include the ability to customize the list of message reactions, so they appear in the order you prefer. There are also new keyboard hotkeys that let you take certain actions in Skype even when the window is minimized or not in focus, and of course, the usual fixes and stability improvements. Skype 8.60 started rolling out last week, but Microsoft only published the changelog today, so you may have noticed these features before, or you might not see them yet. Everyone should be able to see them eventually.