Apple’s recent Group FaceTime fiasco, which allowed users to snoop on other users, raised some serious privacy issues. Now Microsoft’s Skype is facing a similar issue with users complaining that the Android version of the app is automatically answering calls for them.
Skype automatically answering calls: A major privacy issue
The issue that’s causing Skype to answer calls automatically does not appear to be new. Android Police claims users have been complaining about the problem on Microsoft’s support forums since January. However, it is not clear what is actually triggering the bug.
Skype’s Android app does have the option to answer calls for users automatically. However, affected users claim Skype is answering calls automatically even when the feature is disabled.
“My Skype on my phone automatically answers calls after a few seconds. This is even when my phone is in my pocket,” one affected user said.
The issue causing Skype to answer calls automatically is a major one that raises some real privacy concerns, especially since some users claim the bug even enabled video if they gave the app permission to use their phone’s camera.
“It feels like a complete invasion of my privacy and I’m about to uninstall Skype after several years of use,” one affected user said.
What makes the issue even worse is that Skype is a popular business tool. It is mostly used by remote employees to keep in touch with their office, so the issue of Skype answering calls automatically could lead to some very embarrassing situations.
What to do?
Not all Android users report that Skype is answering calls automatically. As of now, there are no workarounds or general troubleshooting tricks like reinstalling the app, and restarting the device doesn’t fix the issue either.
Some users say that the problem was fixed automatically after they disconnected their smartwatches or disabled the Bluetooth on their Android phone. However, some users without smartwatches or those who haven’t paired their smartwatch with the Skype app are also facing the problem.
Microsoft is aware of the issue, and earlier this year, the company said it is investigating. Moreover, there are reports that Microsoft has even fixed the bug in the latest Android beta.
In fact, Microsoft did update Skype’s Android app last week, but some are still facing the problem. If you are still facing the issue after updating to the latest version, you can download the preview/unreleased beta version of the Skype app from the Play Store.
Is Microsoft dumping Cortana for Amazon Alexa?
In other Microsoft news, the company appears to be ditching its Cortana voice assistant for Amazon Alexa. Last week several users reported seeing notifications which said Cortana would not be available in the video app. In place of Cortana, the company is advertising Amazon Alexa voice assistant integration. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the development.
“We are discontinuing the Cortana bot within Skype, but Cortana suggestions are still available,” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNET in an email.
However, the spokesperson said the promotion of Alexa is not related to Cortana’s exit. Even after the Cortana chat bot is phased out, users will still be able to access Cortana suggestions such as smart replies, emoticons and other tools in Skype.
Microsoft first added Cortana to Skype in 2014. The integration allowed users to place calls using their voice, and with the Cortana bot, users can search for information and set tasks in Skype.
New Skype for Web
Last month, Microsoft revamped the web version of Skype with several exciting features. The company added high-definition video calling, updated notification panels, a redesigned media gallery, and more.
In addition to HD calling, which supports group and private calls, the latest update also added built-in call recording. The revamped media gallery now shows files, photos and links from conversations.
Microsoft showcased most of the new updates in October, but it eventually started rolling them out earlier last month. These new updates are available to all PCs with Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.12 or higher. Another requirement is the latest version of Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.
Skype is estimated to have about 1.55 billion users worldwide.