Skype has redesigned its iOS and Android apps to offer easier navigation and a few enhancements.
Released on Thursday for Apple's iPhone and iPad and devices running Google's Android software, Skype version 6.0 looks and feels a bit different from the old version. The latest edition sports a design and layout that better match those of other iOS and Android apps.
Owned by Microsoft, Skype remains one of the most popular services for making phone calls and texting people via the Internet. But the service faces competition from rival messaging apps such as Viber and WhatsApp. Further, the interfaces for Skype's website and mobile apps have grown long in the tooth. The initial simplicity of the design that made the app and site easy to use was lost somewhere along the way. The new versions of the app are an attempt to reclaim some of that simplicity while also sprucing up several features.
The Skype apps for the iPhone and iPad now sport navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen so you can jump from recent conversations to your contacts to your account settings. The Call Phones section displays buttons at the top -- one to show you all of your contacts and another to launch the dialer screen. From the dialer, you can quickly call up your contact list. All of the key features are now more accessible.
You can use swipe gestures to make calls or delete conversations. While on a voice or video call, you can also more easily share photos, website links and even your location. Searching is another feature that is improved. You can now search for messages, contacts and groups all from the new Recents tab.
The iPad version of Skype takes on the design of the iPhone version but expands it for the larger screen where you can share and see large emoticons. You can also now kick off a group chat or voice call by selecting all the participants from the messaging or dialing window.
Skype 6.0 for Android takes on a new look "inspired" by, Google's redesign for its mobile operating system and Web apps.
A floating action button allows you to start a new video or audio call, chat or video message. Like the iPhone and iPad versions, the new Android version of Skype lets you search for contacts and conversations from a single window. Futher, you can more easily see which messages you've read and which ones you haven't.
The changes in the new version of Skype should be welcome news to iOS and Android users. But what about the Skype app for Microsoft's own Windows Phone, which has been dinged by some users for various bugs. The Skype team says that it's "also working hard on the new Windows Phone 10 mobile to deliver a delightful Skype experience -- we'll let you know when we have more to share."