Skype as a photo-sharing platform?
Already capable of voice over IP (VoIP), video calling and text chat, Microsoft is adding the ability to share photos between users to its Skype communications platform. The feature made its debut on Aug. 6 with the release of Skype 2.21 for Windows Phone 8 and 8.1.
"Right now, building great picture sharing capabilities is high on our list of priorities," said Lara Kingwell, a Skype product marketing manager in a blog post. "You can now send photos to one or more contacts and you can receive photos from friends and family who use an iPhone (V5.0 or above) or Windows Phone 8 or Windows Phone 8.1 device."
Users of other devices will still be able to view shared photos with a tried-and-true workaround, the trusty appended Web link. "When you share photos to your contacts who use other platforms, they may receive a URL link to open the pictures," she wrote.
Kingwell indicated that Microsoft intends to add the capability, which also works with offline contacts, to other versions of the software. "This is the first step: we're working hard to build this new photo sharing experience across all of our platforms, so look out for more improvements over the coming months."
In addition to the new photo sharing feature, Skype for Windows Phone 2.21 offers an enhancement to chat that allows users to turn the clock back further on past conversations. "In chat view, you can now scroll up to load even more of your conversation history," stated Kingwell. Users can now also add contacts to their favorites directly from the chat view by tapping the options button.
New text mark-up options render text surrounded by asterisks in bold and by underscores in italics. Finally, the updated app includes performance improvements aimed at providing a smoother experience overall.
Skype for Windows Phone 2.21 comes on the heels of a rapid-fire series of updates for practically every platform.
Last month, Microsoft released Skype 5.0 for Android. The latest version enables users to link their smartphone's built-in contact list. "Starting with Skype 5.0 for Android, you'll be able to connect Skype to your phone address book. This means it's easier than ever to find contacts you already know on Skype so you can start chatting, calling and sharing instantly," stated Skype Senior Product Marketing Manager Pierre-Eric Jacoupy.
Microsoft revealed on July 22 that Amazon's Android-based Fire Phone would ship with a custom version of the Skype app that is tailored to the highly anticipated smartphone's unique UI. Exclusive touches include a Skype 3D icon and notification badge that use "Fire phone's innovative Dynamic Perspective technology," boasted Athan Papakostas, senior partner program manager for Skype, in a statement.
In June, the company released a "remastered" Skype 5.0 app for Apple's iPhone. Optimized for iOS 7, the app features an uncluttered interface, smooth animations and performance tweaks that yield a snappier experience.