Microsoft Continues Skype Rollouts with Updated Android App
By Barry Levine / Top Tech News. Updated November 20, 2012.
Maintaining its steady pace of newly released incarnations, Microsoft on Tuesday released its version 3.0 of Skype for Android. The new version, the first major update to the Android app in over a year, offers the ability to login using Microsoft credentials and features a user interface that is designed to display properly on any size screen.
The company said the new UI will adapt to the various screen sizes that now populate the Android universe, from a smartphone to a tablet. Microsoft specifically mentioned several Android tablets, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Google Nexus 7, Acer Iconia, Asus Transformer Prime, Motorola Xoom and Sony S.
There's also support for the wideband audio codec, SILK, which is designed to provide the best possible voice quality at various Net speeds. The new version requires Android 2.1 or higher and is available at no charge in the Android marketplace, Google Play.
Windows Phone 8 Preview
Last week, Microsoft showed a preview of its Skype for Windows Phone 8. There were reports that the app was still in flux, without, for instance, the ability to receive calls and message notifications when the app is closed. Additionally, various users have fingered the preview app as a possible cause of spontaneous reboots and other problems that are cropping up on several Phone 8 handset models.
In recent months, Microsoft has been moving to take advantage of Skype's potential.
Skype executive Sandhya Venkatachalam last week told news media that his company is beta-testing a new kind of advertising that resembled an interactive service or app, which two or more people could use while having a text, audio or video conversation. One example given was a set of interactive trip planning tools sponsored by an airline, so callers could mutually plan a shared vacation.
In the spring, Microsoft announced Conversation Ads for Skype, which provide conversation starters to callers using the service. The premium, fee-based Skype is available ad-free.
SITW, Live Messenger
Earlier this month, Skype in the Workspace, or SITW, was launched. Built around Skype's IM, voice and video communications, SITW is intended as a community for small- and medium-size businesses to offer and respond to opportunities, with follow-ups between interested parties via instant messaging, phone calls and video-based demonstrations.
Also this month, Microsoft announced that it was phasing out the 12-year-old Live Messenger service, as it attempts to migrate Messenger's estimated 100 million-plus users to Skype. Skype for Windows 8 had already been utilizing the Windows Messenger infrastructure for storing pictures, video and other content on Microsoft's cloud service, Azure.
Skype allows users to make free or inexpensive calls around the world, over the Internet. It has become a popular means for personal communications between companies, and many businesses, especially smaller ones, regularly use some form of the service.
Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011 from a private investment group. It was purchased by the investment group from eBay, which had acquired it from its founders in 2003.