Members of the Microsoft Windows Insider early-access program can now communicate as a group using the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) version of Skype, the company announced April 22. UWP apps are code-once affairs that can run on a variety of Windows device types with little to no modification of the underlying code.
The updated Skype UWP Preview app, available in the Windows Store app marketplace, now enables users to make group video and audio calls and conduct group chats. To help users recover a little more gracefully from typos and auto-correct errors in chat messages, now Skype allows users to edit or delete messages. Users can also now classify any person or group as a favorite.
Soon, a mobile version of the app will synchronize conversations across Windows PCs and smartphones.
“The mobile release of the Skype UWP Preview app will bring you features you’ve asked for—like group calling and more—while leveraging the benefits of the Skype integration into Windows 10 you previously experienced, like a single view of your SMS and Skype conversations,” wrote the Microsoft Skype group in a blog post. “This way you get the best Skype experience possible and you can take it across your Windows devices.”
Windows Ink, one of the hallmark Windows 10 Anniversary Update features announced at this year’s Build developer conference, is making its debut in a preview build (14328) ahead of its release this summer.
Windows Ink adds native digital inking support to the operating system and apps that support it, like Office, Maps and Microsoft Edge. On devices with stylus-based input options, Windows Ink enables users to create digital whiteboards, write sticky notes, annotate Office documents and generally interact with apps in new ways. In the Maps app, for example, travelers can determine the distance between two points and sketch out routes that the app can overlay atop 3D maps.
Build 14328 also brings an updated Start menu, with a streamlined apps list that combines “most used” and “all apps.” Power, File Explorer and Settings always remain visible after having been moved to a “rail” that appears on the left side of the menu.
In tablet mode, users can find apps in a full-screen view that is reminiscent of the divisive Windows 8 Start Screen. “The grid-like implementation of the full-screen All Apps list aims to provide efficiency while taking advantage of the additional real estate on the Start screen on a tablet,” blogged Gabe Aul, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Engineering Systems Team, in an April 22 post. “Specifically, we looked at striking a balance between density and ‘scan-ability’ (how easy it is to scan the list to find the app you want).”
With the ability to comb through documents, photos, music or videos on the OneDrive cloud storage service, Cortana can now cast a wider net during file searches. The virtual assistant can also be invoked from the lock screen and can be used to answer simple questions, search the Web for answers and find documents without signing in.