Microsoft reveals "next generation of Skype", launching on Android; iOS and Windows later

"Life is busy and filled with too many options," Microsoft's Skype team said today. "Staying connected, with all this noise, can sometimes be challenging."

Microsoft's solution to overcome this noise is to cram more features, more bots, more colors, more emoticons - arguably, more noise - into the app, as it launches "the next generation" of Skype. The company insists that this major overhaul for its communications app will "make experiencing life together, every day, simpler".

Microsoft said that Skype has been "rebuilt from the ground up", with an improved interface in which "chatting is front and center".

"We’ve made group chats more lively, expressive, and—most importantly—personalized, so you can chat the way you want," it said. Users will be able to personalize Skype with new color options, and "by simply tapping on the reaction icon next to any message or video call, you can now easily express how you feel at any time."

But Microsoft seems to believe that boring old conversations simply aren't enough to hold the attentions of the modern user, and that belief has clearly been influenced by rival apps. "With the new Skype," Microsoft said, "it’s even easier to turn talk into action with group conversations, add-ins, and bots."

Elaborating further on the endless new capabilities and complexities that it's added to Skype, while claiming that it's made everything simpler, it added:

The new “Find” panel takes center stage, and makes Skype infinitely searchable. Looking for seats to a big game? Pull ticket pricing and seating options directly into the chat with the StubHub bot. Trying to find the perfect recipe for the brunch you’re hosting? Discover the latest trends with the BigOven add-in and learn the many ways you can make that avocado toast. Planning a weekend getaway with old friends? Chat with the Expedia bot to check flight times and pricing.

More add-ins and bots "will continue to be added, making your Skype experience even more rich and robust," apparently. And since everyone's most treasured moments in their lifetimes are those they spend engaging with brands, Microsoft added: "With the ability to connect to your favorite businesses and brands from within the app, the simplest conversations can pave the way to lasting memories."

Microsoft is trying to turn Skype into a more social platform, by introducing its version of Snapchat Stories, which it calls 'Skype Highlights'. Just like the Snapchat version, Skype's implementation offers users a way to easily capture and share pictures and videos for a limited time, posting them to a timeline on which friends and family can see them, and react with emoji.

Even the most basic experience of calling "just got a lot more fun", Microsoft said, with the ability to "share photos, messages, emoticons and stickers in real-time."

This is the latest in a long line of overhauls and user experience changes to Skype over the years. Less than two months ago, Microsoft finally 'completed' its new UWP app for Windows 10, after nine months in preview - and now, the company has once again announced a fresh overhaul with a new design and another wave of added features.

Windows users won't get the new app immediately. The new version of Skype is launching first on Android, "releasing gradually over the coming weeks", and will eventually be followed by its availability on iPhone. Microsoft said "versions for Windows and Mac will be released over the next few months."

You can find out more about the new Skype on Microsoft's launch site, or by watching the video below:

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