Microsoft is leaving practically no device behind in its quest to turn its Skype app into a mobile must-have.
This week, the company announced Skype 6.4 for Android, an update that adds Android Wear support. Specifically, the app now allows users to manage or reply to conversations with a tap or two of their smartwatches, including the Moto 360 and the Asus ZenWatch. Skype for iPhone already supports similar functionality on the Apple Watch.
The updated app, available now at the Google Play app store, now displays notifications when users receive a call. However, carrying on a conversation by speaking into one’s wrist like the fictional detective Dick Tracy is still a ways off.
“Decline incoming calls from your wrist if you’re busy and can’t take a call at the moment,” wrote Microsoft’s Skype Team in a blog post. “Or, accept incoming calls on your Android Wear device—and use Skype on your Android phone using the microphone, headphones, or a wireless Bluetooth speaker or headset.” During calls, users can also mute, pause, hang up or switch to another call on their smartwatches.
Users can also view and reply to Skype text chats. “You can use voice-to-text by speaking to your wrist. Or, if you’re in a rush, you can select from a set of pre-written responses. You can even draw on the watch and respond with an emoji,” stated Microsoft.
The market for wearable devices is poised to take off in the wake of April’s high-profile Apple Watch launch. In March, technology research firm International Data Corp. forecast that wearable device shipments would balloon to 126.1 million units, compared with shipments of 19.6 million units last year.
Already, software makers are extending their business software offerings to wrist-worn devices powered by Android Wear and Apple’s watchOS. Last month, Microsoft added Apple Watch support to the iOS version of the Outlook app.
In keeping with the Apple theme, Microsoft also announced Skype 7.13 for Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
In a separate Sept. 30 announcement, the Skype Team revealed they “added support to the new Split View mode in El Capitan, which helps you with multitasking, such as planning a trip with a group of friends on Skype while browsing travel sites on the side.” Also new is a streamlined process of adding contacts to Skype.
“Just go to Contacts and click Add Contacts,” instructed Microsoft. “There you’ll see an option to automatically add people you know in your Mac or other address books. You can also verify your mobile number so that people who have it can easily find you on Skype.”
Along with the new enhancements, the update solves an issue that caused the software to crash for some users. Microsoft also cautions that El Capitan users may experience slowdowns when switching to a conversation with several participants. A fix is in the works, according to the company.