Skype’s Mobile Future: A Few Thoughts on the Road Ahead
Skype was founded under the simple principle that “the whole world can talk for free,” and I’m not sure any of us could have imagined the remarkable effect this would have had in our daily lives. From millions of young families sharing their weekly video call with proud grandparents, to connecting students around the world with Skype in the Classroom, to bringing families together of all kinds – Skype has become a fundamental part of how the world communicates.
That said, when you ask people “What’s Skype?”, pretty often the answer you’ll get is “it’s a free video calling app for your PC or Mac.” We love that; that got us to where we are today. But, as we all know, the world has changed. People’s computers are just as much in their pockets as on their desks, and Skype has grown up right along with this increasingly mobile world. Here’s a few things you may not know about us:
- At certain points in the day, there are more people using Skype from their phone or tablet than from a PC.
- Each month, the growth rate of new users coming to Skype on a tablet or phone is double what it was the year before. And those people now represent nearly half of the total new users joining Skype every month.
- Skype continues to be an essential app, ranked in the top 10 most downloaded apps of all time on Windows Phone, iOS, and Android.
As more and more people take Skype with them on the go, we’re continuing to evolve the experience according to the mobile user’s unique and ever-changing needs. We spend a lot of time collecting feedback and this is what we’ve been hearing lately:
- Make Skype more reliable, and less power hungry. Be nice to my battery life. Pretty self-explanatory, and the work is never done.
- Messaging needs to be easier and at my fingertips. People use a lot of different apps for messaging – and it’s very easy to switch back and forth, using the one that feels right in the moment. While Skype is known best for calling (recently exceeding 2 billion minutes in one day!), our users also send tens of billions of chat messages every month to the people they care about most. They simply want it to be more convenient.
- I now use Skype on multiple devices, so make the experience fast and familiar. More and more of our users have Skype on their phone, tablet, and PC. So while we still need to make Android feel like Android and Windows feel like Windows, people want a fast, beautiful, and more coherent design across all the devices they use.
With this feedback in mind, we’ve made some good progress in the past year, and we are making considerable investments in our mobile apps in the coming months and the year ahead. You can expect to see enhancements in the following areas:
- Increasing performance and quality. This is our number one priority and a key component of every update we roll out. Earlier this year, we started making some significant changes under the hood to the way in which our apps work, specifically around reliability, battery life and performance. We debuted some of this work first on Skype for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. As we said back then, this work helps ensure that calls and messages come in quickly, reliably and without affecting your battery life. We plan to bring these same enhancements to all the devices you use Skype on.
- Modern design, putting conversations first. To make all your interactions on Skype easier, we are putting conversations at the heart of a redesigned experience. Not only is this Modern design bold and beautiful, but it’s also simpler and easier to use. Doing this on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 dramatically reduced the time it takes to reply to a message, while making it even simpler to upgrade that conversation to a voice or video call. Our aim is to make the experience and design of our apps as consistent as possible, while still respecting each device’s unique look and feel.
- Completing the experience across devices. We’ve seen an incredible response to the new capabilities we’ve brought to Skype recently including video messaging, picture sharing, HD video, and more. And we want everyone to have the same great Skype experience regardless of the device they choose. We have some work to do in this area, but you’ll increasingly see a more consistent feature set across all our apps by the end of the year.
As you can see, there are a lot of advances to be made, and we will continue to deliver regular updates, adapting our plans as your needs evolve and change. As is to be expected, the way in which we roll out updates to our apps is very fluid and, with so many platforms to support, different innovation may come to different devices at different times. For example, you may see one of our apps receive a face-lift to the way it looks, while another might get significantly improved performance.
We will focus on the most important things for each platform first, at the same time moving them all down the path to one common vision of what Skype’s mobile future should be. So keep watching, and we’ll let you know when more good stuff is on the way.