Microsoft Previews Skype for Business Apps for iOS and Android

Replacing Lync 2013 on iPhones and Android smartphones, the new apps bear a stronger resemblance to their consumer-grade counterparts.


Skype for Business is finally available on iOS and Android, at least for participants of Microsoft's Skype for Business Preview prerelease program.

The new apps replace Lync 2013, as part of a rebranding effort the company kicked off last year to bring its enterprise unified communications platform under the Skype banner. In April, Microsoft made it official with the launch of Skype for Business for Office 365 customers.

Now, businesses can see how the experience translates to iOS and Android devices, announced Jared Goralnick, principal group program manager of Microsoft Skype for Business. In terms of look and feel, the apps have a lot in common with the non-business Skype builds.

"We've infused Skype simplicity throughout the new iOS and Android apps, created a new dashboard for easy navigation of your contacts, calls and meetings, and updated the In-Call and In-Meeting experience," wrote Goralnick in an Aug. 11 blog post. "The updated dashboard brings the contact search bar, your upcoming meetings and most recent conversations to one place."

Although the new Skype for Business apps hew closely to minimalist, white and pale blue aesthetic of the Skype apps for iOS, Android and Windows, they offer some business-focused capabilities, including an Upcoming Appoints view.

"Here you can see your current and next meetings in your calendar," said Goralnick. "You can either click through to read more about the meeting or click the Quick Join icon to join the meeting right away," he instructed.

Users can find co-workers, clients and partners in their Global Address List with the contact search bar. It supports searching by name, email alias or phone number. iOS users can also search their phone contacts. The Recent Conversations view displays recent chats, calls and meetings.

Those calls and meetings deliver a more Skype-like experience in the revamped software. "We rebuilt the In-Call and In-Meeting experience with new features that make it easier to navigate calls and meetings on your mobile phone or tablet," said Goralnick.

The new features include larger buttons to facilitate call management, add participants or simply mute calls. Video calls now fill the screen, offering a better view of callers. Mode switching has been streamlined, too.

"We made it easier to navigate between video and content with just one tap by simplifying the IM, video and content panes," said Goralnick. "While you can still view content in full screen, you can now also view content and see the speaker's video at the same time."

Organizations that want to test out the new functionality before their Lync 2013 iOS and Android apps are updated to Skype for Business later this year are being encouraged to sign up for the preview program by Aug. 14.

They can "nominate up to four end users for iOS and four for Android to participate," said Goralnick. The new apps are compatible with Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business Server 2015 and the cloud-delivered Skype for Business Online service.

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...