Microsoft Targets Skype Audio Quality

Calls become clearer after Microsoft leverages the company's audio processing research for the latest versions of Skype.


Skype users can now place Skype calls without first tucking into a quiet corner.

Microsoft announced in a Skype Big Blog post that the company has added advanced audio processing technology to its VoIP communications software that promises to deliver clearer voice communications in challenging conditions. With the latest versions of Skype, "you'll be able to have high quality audio no matter what kind of noise environment you're in—an airport, train station, shopping mall, rock show or concert hall."

The improvement was sparked by the company's research into smartphones and their audio processing capabilities.

"Audio signal processing over mobile devices is getting more sophisticated all the time. We can therefore leverage the audio capabilities that have been optimized for a specific device's acoustics," stated Sriram Srinivasan, senior program manager of Audio Digital Signal Processing for Microsoft, in the blog post.

For instance, Srinivasan's team worked with the Lumia group on ways to capitalize on a handset's features, namely multiple microphones, for clearer calls in noisy environments like airports. "When you're activating the front facing camera, signals from all the microphones are combined using Lumia's smart signal processing technology to zoom in to your voice and cancel everything else," stated Srinivasan.

More advanced audio capabilities, along with a host of improvements, are headed to the Skype platform. According to Karlheinz Wurm, partner product manager for Skype Real-time Communications, users can expect future tweaks to arrive on a more regular basis.

"We don't live in a world where we can release software on a two year plan anymore," said Wurm in a statement, echoing Microsoft's new strategy for issuing more frequent software updates. "The market changes too quickly and we need to be able to respond to situations in an agile way. An example is iOS8—we know it's coming, and we need to make sure that Skype works perfectly on it as soon as possible."

iOS 8, released on Sept. 17, was described by Apple as "the biggest iOS release ever." And Microsoft responded quickly with the release of Skype 5.5 for iPhone.

The updated app allows users to perform more actions directly from the iPhone lock screen, according to Skype product marketing manager Eric Lin. "The newest version of Skype for iPhone takes advantage of extensions in iOS 8 to deliver interactive notifications," he said in a Sept. 22 blog post. "You can now answer voice and video calls as well as jump right to text conversations to reply all from the lock screen and notification center."

Apple, no stranger to frequent software updates, was forced to pull its first iOS 8 update (iOS 8.0.1) after iPhone 6 owners lost the ability to place cellular calls or use the Touch ID biometric security feature. Affected users are encouraged to reinstall iOS 8 through iTunes. A company spokesperson told eWEEK's Todd R. Weiss that the company is working on releasing a fix with iOS 8.0.2 in the "next few days."

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...