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Overview

Recently upgraded to its 4.0 version, Skype has already managed to claim over 100 million installs. While supporters of other competitive applications might argue that the major redesign has only managed to create a Windows 8 UI copycat, the truth the developers did a lot more than that. Even from the first look, you can’t help but notice that every feature of the app is designed for the purpose of enhancing the conversation and messaging.

Developer

Skype is the creation of a team of talented developers from Estonia. Launched in 2003, the company was bought seven years later by Microsoft, the company that invested a lot of cash and money to transform this hybrid peer-to-peer system into the simplest and easiest instant messaging and video call service everyone can use.

Interface

Skype’s new UI certainly gives the impression that everything has changed for the better. From separate tabs that show contacts, recent conversations and favorites to using small circles for chatheads, everything feels and looks polished and well thought. Overall it’s clear that Skype has been completely revamped and that it has seen a lot of changes, all for the sake of better performance.

However, during the redesign the developers have also managed to bury the settings and sign out options even deeper, two of the features that should always be on top of the user interface. However, this issue can be easily solved by tapping onto your profile pic or avatar and accessing the menu. On a side note, don’t forget to uncheck the “automatic sign in” option if you intend to log into a different account.

A quick look at its main features

  • Skype allows you to call anyone everywhere free of charge
  • With over 250 million Skype users, you’re bound to bump into somebody you know
  • If your contacts don’t have Skype installed, don’t worry; the fees are minimal
  • The video conference feature accommodates up to 25 users simultaneously while maintain the call’s quality
  • The instant messaging services is free
  • Skype grants you a caller ID, so your friends and relatives know they’re calling you
  • In the event that you can’t take a call or you’re not connected to Skype, you can choose to redirect the call to any nearby phone
  • Skype To Go is a feature that guarantees low-cost international calls
  • You can easily switch from your call to internet browsing via one click
  • The GroupMe feature allows you to sort out and organize your IMs, photos and hide/show your location
  • Thanks to the new update, now you can send any size and type of media files
  • Skype to Facebook is an easy way to chat and make video calls with your FB friends
  • Skype Connect permits you to make calls via the PBX network (operator data charges may apply)
  • Skype Manager makes administering your accounts, credits and other settings seamlessly
  • Wi-Fi Skype is a simple way to connect to millions of hotspots worldwide

Pros

In spite of the fact that there aren’t any noteworthy additions function-wise, it is necessary to mention that Skype 4.0 has that new app smell. For starters, the developers have jumped on the flat style bandwagon, a practice seen almost everywhere these days. In addition, the new design has been stripped of obsolete features to make room for the basic buttons and bright tabs, an approach that makes the interface more appealing and practical.

As mentioned, the developers have – finally! – got rid of all the unnecessary clutter that not only made the UI obtuse, but also had a negative impact on the performance. Now Skype is in its simplest and – must admit – attractive form, a fact that will definitely make it run smoother and speed things up overall.

Cons

Video calling has stirred up mixed feeling in users. While for some state they didn’t experience any sort of issues, other users report having problems with switching the conversation from loudspeaker to ear speaker. Basically, trading the loudspeaker to headphones is a particular nuisance when you’re declining a mobile call because you want to transfer it to Skype.

In a nutshell

Available on smartphones, tablets, Macs, PCs and even certain HD TV, Skype represents the simplest way to get in touch with your loved ones, friends or colleagues. Irrespective of whether you prefer to send a message or you want to catch up via a voice or video call, Skype is the best application in terms of free and unlimited video and messaging.

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