The Skype for iPhone app is getting a makeover.
Microsoft announced that Skype 5.0 for iOS 7 will soon be sporting a new look. "The new Skype for iPhone is redesigned to put your conversation at the center of a faster, smoother and far more integrated experience," Skype product marketing manager Eric Lin said in a statement. The company's designers and engineers, he claimed, "have obsessed over every pixel."
A company-supplied screenshot shows a new, uncluttered interface that borrows heavily from the design language that the company employs on its Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 operating systems. "Skype 5.0 for iPhone shares a consistent look and feel with the Windows Phone and Android apps, while still optimizing for iOS's unique strengths," stated Lin.
The app, Lin said, sports "the visual finish that iOS users expect, smooth animations and even a few features that aren't just new for this version, but new to Skype altogether."
Updated visuals aside, the new Skype app will include optimizations that allow users to manage their contacts more efficiently and jump between different modes of communication (such as chat, voice and video) seamlessly. Group chats can now be started directly from the app's main hub.
Skype 5.0 will also feel snappier, according to Lin. "The new version is over 5 times faster than the old version." Adding pictures to Skype chats mimics the streamlined process used by Apple's native Messages app. Users can also record video messages to drop into their Skype chat conversations.
Video calls connect faster under Skype 5.0, too. "With video calling, you'll see them as soon as they answer; no build-up or drum roll, you're just there, right in the action," said Microsoft in a preview site.
The software maker was also keen on adding visual flair without sacrificing battery life. The new Skype on iPhone experience is marked by smooth scrolling and transitions "with delightful little pops and animations punctuating them," said Lin. "[They are] all without degrading the performance and battery improvements we worked so hard to achieve."
Rounding out the enhancements is improved syncing across devices. "Now, as you read your messages on your PC, tablet, Xbox and so on, those conversations will be marked as read (or unread if new messages come in) on your iPhone too," said Lin.
Microsoft has been working to strengthen Skype platform's syncing capabilities. In a recent update for Windows 8.1, the company improved the app's handling of offline chat messages and remedied a pesky bug that caused Skype to ring on multiple devices during incoming calls.
Skype 5.0 for iPad is expected to show up in the Apple App Store in "about a week," said Lin in a June 9 announcement. An iPad version is also in the works.