A month after Microsoft released its "remastered" Skype 5.0 app for the iPhone, the company has turned its attention to Android smartphones.
The new version blurs the line between an Android device's native contact list and Skype's own friends list, announced Skype senior product marketing manager, Pierre-Eric Jacoupy, in a company blog post. "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," he wrote.
Over the next few months, users will be prompted to verify their phone numbers, said Jacoupy. "From there, the app will automatically look for contact matches between Skype and your address book. When matches are found, you'll see new contacts show up in your Skype people list," he explained. Once linked, Skype will sync its contact list as more address book contacts join Skype.
Shooting down possible privacy concerns, Microsoft pledges to treat linked address books responsibly. "And rest assured, once you connect your address book, we won't spam your friends," said Jacoupy.
The new feature is not mandatory, nor will it expose one's mobile phone number to the Skype community via users' public profiles. Skype remains "dedicated to making sure you're in total control of your Skype experience," asserted Jacoupy.
"In your settings, you can easily choose whether you want your address book contacts to be automatically added to Skype or not," instructed Jacoupy. "You can modify the phone number associated with your account or deactivate it completely, if you don't want to be found by your phone number."
Although the Skype address book syncing feature is exclusive to Android, Microsoft is working on bringing the capability "to other mobile platforms in the coming months."
Skype Bundled With Amazon's Fire Phone
The update follows news that Amazon's Fire Phone will ship with Skype preinstalled. Athan Papakostas, senior partner program manager for Skype, revealed in a July 22 blog post that the app "is pre-entitled on the Amazon Fire Phone," sparing owners a trip to the app store.
The Amazon Fire Phone edition of the app is tailored to Amazon's unique UI. "Through a widget that is visible from Fire's Carousel, users can easily see their chats and notifications at a glance, without having to launch the Skype app and open chats with a one-click action," said Papakostas. "Finally, the customized Skype 3D icon and notification badge show Skype's use of Fire phone's innovative Dynamic Perspective technology."
Amazon's Android-powered Fire smartphone, first unveiled June 18, features sensors on the top corners of the phone that allow the outdoor-optimized touch screen to display 3D-like visuals and additional information as a user tilts the device. Amazon has made Dynamic Perspective software development kits (SDKs) available for developers who want to enhance their apps with the technology.