Microsoft has redesigned its Skype consumer app for Android tablets, bringing it in line with last year's overhaul of the app for Android smartphones. Both versions of the app now sport a more consistent design, and on tablets, the revamped interface includes enhancements meant to help users make the most of the added on-screen real estate.
For starters, Skype 7.0 for Android now supports one of the Android's hallmark interface features.
"The new floating action button (FAB) makes it faster to send messages and start voice and video calls with friends or groups—all from the main screen of the app," blogged the Microsoft Skype team. "The FAB changes your Skype experience dynamically to give you quick access to important features like messaging, voice, video calls and Skype bots."
Flipping an Android tablet into landscape mode while using Skype 7.0 now causes a multipane view to display, allowing users to multitask. The app also includes the company's improved universal search, which can be used to find contacts, groups, bots and chat content from the app's main screen.
Finally, Skype now shows all of a user's contacts from a device's address book. An invite button displays next to the name of non-Skype contacts. Clicking it sends a message instructing the recipient on getting set up with Skype.
Skype 7.0 for Android is available now at the Google Play app store.
Skype Gets Down to Business With App Developers
On the business front, Microsoft recently released a software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to create apps that use Skype for Business' messaging and communications capabilities.
First shown during the Build developer conference back in March, Microsoft released the Skype for Business App SDK Preview on May 19, announced James Skay, senior product marketing manager at Microsoft Skype for Business. "This new SDK enables developers to seamlessly integrate instant messaging, audio and video experiences into their custom iOS and Android applications," he said in a statement.
Microsoft envisions developers using the SDK to create apps with "remote advisor" capabilities, similar to the telehealth app from early adopter MDLIVE. Making Skype for Business' voice, video and chat capabilities available to app coders "is an important step in our Skype Developer Platform roadmap to combine the power of cloud voice, meetings and messaging with new cloud APIs and SDKs that work across a range of web and device platforms to drive new scenarios and help developers and partners re-imagine how they engage and win customers," added Skay.
Last month, some Mac users got an early taste of what Skype for Business (formerly Lync) has in store. Microsoft began a phased release of the client for Apple machines, about a year after the company released the Windows version of the software.
The first phase included the release of the Skype for Business Preview for Mac, which lacks some critical functionality like instant messaging and contacts. (Microsoft recommends that early testers use it alongside their current Lync 2011 client.) The third and final preview release, due out this summer, will include all of the software's voice and messaging capabilities.