Chatting on the Android flavor of the Skype app now more faithfully reproduces the PC and iPhone experience, courtesy of a new update from Microsoft.
"With Skype 5.3 for Android, we've made some big changes to make the chat experience more consistent and more fun," Eric Lin, Tom Huang and Lara Kingwell, Microsoft product marketing managers, announced in a jointly-authored Skype Garage & Updates blog post. "You'll see a new bubble style chat layout, similar to the Skype apps on desktop and iPhone."
The accompanying screen shot indeed displays Skype's new, more modern take on chat with an uncluttered design, blue text bubbles, crisp fonts and picture-based avatars. Also new is the ability to pepper Skype chats with emojis.
"We haven't just improved how your chat looks, but also what you can say," said the Skype staffers. "We added support for emoji, so you can go beyond Skype's emoticons and triple the number of ways you can express yourself without typing a single word." They also revealed that they are rolling out a feature that displays a larger, animated version of a Skype emoticon if it constitutes the entire message.
Skype 5.3 for Android users can also now utter their chat responses. "We support messaging via speech-to-text when connected to an Android Auto experience," they added.
The update also makes it easier to follow active conversations as chats no longer auto-scroll when new messages are received. Users can also now change and view avatars in group chats with the "participants" option. Finally, in a nod to those juggling multiple accounts, Skype for Android requires users to re-enter their credentials after signing out of the app.
Meanwhile, on the iOS side of the fence, Microsoft is going international.
"On Skype 5.12 for iPhone, we're adding additional language support to include even more of our users around the world," said the group. "Within the coming week, we're adding Croatian, Slovak, Catalan, Vietnamese, Thai, Hindi, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malay, Turkish and Estonian."
Finally, Skype Qik, the company's mobile video messaging app, is offering users more ways to personalize their snippets in version 1.5 for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.
"We created eight new effects you can use while recording your videos to make them more fun and playful," wrote Lin, Huang and Kingwell. "Once you open the viewfinder, you can select an effect to apply to your video. You can even switch from one to another while you're recording to include multiple effects in one video message."
Effects include mirror, X-ray and an 8-bit filter named after the blockbuster Minecraft game that Microsoft acquired in November for $2.5 billion. "On iPhone and Android, tap the magic wand in the viewfinder window to display the effects options. On Windows Phone, swipe on the viewfinder to cycle through the different styles," they instructed.