Microsoft Enhances Skype for Android, iPhone Users

Microsoft introduces photo sharing to offline contacts on Android and brings back Skype URI support for iPhone users.


Microsoft is making it easier to trade photos and initiate calls in the latest round of updates for the company's Android and iPhone flavors of the ever-evolving Skype platform.

New to Skype 5.2 for Android is the ability to share photos with offline contacts, said Tom Huang, Microsoft product marketing manager, in a Feb. 9 announcement. "Gone are the days when you and your contacts need to be online at the same time for you to share photos using Skype," he said.

"With this update, you can now send photos to your Skype contacts at a time that's convenient for you, regardless of your contacts' online status," Huang continued, detailing the app's newfound aptitude for asynchronous image trading. When an offline contact logs back on, images appear inline in the app's chat history for a given contact.

For multitaskers, the Android smartphone version of the app supports a picture-in-picture view, enabling users to "keep a video call going even when you navigate away to other applications," he said. Also, chats load faster and call quality has been improved on low-bandwidth connections, according to Huang.

Over on the Apple side of the fence, Skype 5.10 for iPhone marks the return of Skype uniform resource identifier (URI) support.

As Microsoft's online documentation explains, "Skype URIs provide a simple way for you to initiate Skype calls and chats directly from websites, desktop, and mobile apps." One embedded into a Website or app, they provide one-click (or one-tap) to Skype calling functionality. "Skype URIs are the preferred mechanism for integrating with the Skype client, and are supported on iPhone, iPad, Android, versions of the Windows operating system starting with Windows XP, Linux, and Mac OS X."

After a stint away, Skype URI support is back, said Lara Kingwell, a Skype product marketing manager, in a blog post.

"As long as the Skype app is installed on an iPhone, when a user taps on a Skype name or phone number, the URI will open the Skype app to connect a call or send a message, making it faster than ever to reach friends, family or businesses," she wrote. "For example, if you're browsing restaurant options on an app or mobile website that utilizes Skype URIs, tapping on the phone number would launch Skype so you could call and make a reservation."

Skype for iPhone's dialer has also received some tweaks, Kingwell said.

"Now you can save phone numbers that have been entered into the dial pad and also phone numbers in your recent calls list," she wrote. "When you save the phone numbers, you can easily create new contacts so you don't have to search for the number next time you call."

The enhancements build off last June's release of a “remastered” Skype 5.0 app for the iPhone. In a bid to harmonize Skype's look, feel and functionality across OS platforms, the app was "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 at the time.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...