Microsoft released Skype 5.5 for Android to the Google Play store this week, an update that helps take the hassle out of logging back in when users exit the app.
Although the company has trimmed the app’s power requirements, enabling it to run in the background on Android smartphones and tablets with little impact on battery life, there are still users who like to run Skype on an as-needed basis. For those users, Microsoft has added new log-in options.
“Skype now remembers your log-in details so you won’t need to,” announced Tom Huang, a Microsoft product marketing manager, in a post on the official Skype Garage & Updates Blog. “Just one tap on the arrow, and you’re in and ready to send IMs or make calls.”
Conversely, security-conscious types can layer password protection onto the sign-in process. “You can also change the setting so the password is required every time you sign in. While signed in, just tap on the menu icon ‘…’ > ‘Settings’ and look for the option under the Privacy section,” he instructed.
Borrowing a feature from some popular chat and text messaging clients, Microsoft has also added inline Web content previews to the app’s chat module.
The Web link preview feature, which displays an image or video link’s respective content directly in the conversation view, is already available in the Mac and iOS versions of the software. In the coming weeks, it will come to Android, said Huang. “Now when you send a web link in chat, a rich visual preview of the content is automatically displayed, making it much easier to see what’s been shared.”
Microsoft isn’t only improving the Skype experience for mobile users. Last week the company launched an update to its Skype TX controller software used to conduct and manage live Skype interviews and on-the-ground reports by television broadcasters.
The update includes search enhancements that help users quickly find and get in touch with contributors, according to a July 9 announcement from Jonathan Watson, a senior product marketing manager for Skype. Users can now search using a name or email address or by digging into the Skype directory.
“Once you’ve found them, you can add them to your shared contacts list so you’re ready to place a call at any time on one of your Skype TX units,” Watson stated. “You can see the contributor’s status which helps when starting a call and, if they’re a regular contributor, you can add them as a favorite.”
A new mini-video preview feature and call quality indicator allow users to monitor and compare the fidelity of multiple live calls. “You can also check the inbound and outbound call quality and take a snapshot of the contributor, which will be shown automatically if the call quality falls below a pre-set level,” said Watson.
Finally, the software has been enhanced to help users accommodate more Skype participants during their broadcasts, “by allowing a single operator to manage and control up to 14 Skype TX units in a single interface,” he noted.