Technology

Microsoft Stops Ruining Skype, Ditches Snapchat-like Feature

Microsoft Skype
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Microsoft made big updates to Skype in 2017 in an attempt to make the service more socially interactive. However, Microsoft is now ditching the Snapchat-style feature following complaints from users who said it was the worst Microsoft Skype update ever.

Changes made to Microsoft Skype

Microsoft has acknowledged that the Snapchat-style features meddled with the app’s core uses, which are messaging and making phone calls. Further, the company said many of the updates didn’t “resonate” with most users.

“This past year we explored some design changes and heard from customers that we overcomplicated some of our core scenarios,” Skype’s design director, Peter Skillman, said in a blog post.

With the latest update, the “redundant and underused features” will be axed, and the Skype mobile app will have just three buttons at the bottom: chats, calls and contacts. Desktop users will see those three buttons and a fourth one for notifications at the top-left of the screen.

Microsoft has also updated the contacts section and the user interface to ax the items that are not used and make it more user-friendly. With these changes, Microsoft hopes to connect “to the Skype legacy” and make it “easy for long-time Skype users to understand.” Microsoft also reverted to the Skype “Classic” blue theme and ditched decorative elements like the notifications with a squiggle shape cut out.

“We want to celebrate content AND give you a full range of color expression with light and dark themes,” said Skillman.

Snapchat-like feature ditched

In particular, Skype has ditched a feature similar to Snapchat’s and Instagram’s Stories, which was called Highlights. The feature allowed users to put up photos and videos that remain live for 24 hours before they are automatically removed.

“Calling became harder to execute and ‘Highlights’ didn’t resonate with a majority of users,” Skillman explained.

Ditching the feature is part of the company’s effort to prioritize “simplicity.” Microsoft Skype added the Highlights feature in June 2017. The new feature never became popular among users; instead, the majority of users hated it.

According to Skype, users mostly use the platform for calls, video chat and instant messaging, and the Highlights feature sort of interrupted that core setup. Now that Skype is ditching the feature, users have until September 30 to download their Highlights posts and save them.

Microsoft has continuously been updating Skype to keep it relevant. Recently, the company even expressed its intention to phase out the desktop app and replace it with a more mobile-like app. However, Microsoft was soon forced to change its mind following backlash from users.

Rising competition for Microsoft Skype

In 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype, which debuted in 2003. At the time, it was the only major messaging service. Now there are Facebook’s Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram, Snapchat and more. All provide similar features and often copy features from each other. For instance, Messenger and Instagram apparently copied the Stories feature from Snapchat.

Lately, Microsoft Skype has struggled to retain its relevance amid rising competition from the likes of Apple’s FaceTime, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Tencent’s WeChat. According to data from Statista, WhatsApp is currently the dominant messaging app with 1.5 billion monthly active users. Skype has only 300 million monthly active users.

With the latest changes, Microsoft will be hoping to add new users and retain the users who were planning to quit Skype. Microsoft’s latest changes are part of the Skype version (8.29) for Android, iOS, macOS, Linux and Windows 7 to 8.1. Microsoft said the latest revamp is just the “beginning,” and going forward, users can expect more updates.

Microsoft is also working on adding new features to Skype. These features include searching for a particular message within a chat, making it easy to add a phone number as a contact, new privacy settings, the ability to change the font size in chat, online status improvements, and split window view on Windows 10. Moreover, if you wish to see any feature added to Skype, you can request it on Microsoft’s new UserVoice site.

“We are listening to your feedback and are wholly committed to improving the Skype experience based on what you are telling us,” Skillman said. “We are passionate about bringing you closer to the people in your life—so if we can do that better, please tell us.”