A few years ago, Skype was the rockstar of the messaging world, but now with smartphones and mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage, Skype’s iPhone feature-set and application have begun to stagnate. However, the Skype development team has not been standing still. The Microsoft-owned company is revealing today that it is nearing the launch of a completely revamped Skype application for the iPhone and iPod touch. I met with lead Skype designer Guilherme Schneider last week for an exclusive preview and an interview regarding the new software, and the application certainly seems impressive…

The new design is flat, clean and easy to use. With large and colorful buttons, the interface is more accessible and quicker to navigate. The interface ditches the classic tab bar from the current version of the app in favor of a Windows Phone-style swipe gesture.

With the new app, users can swipe between their contacts list, recent contacts, and favorite people. At the bottom of the app, there are quick action buttons to launch the Skype phone dialer and open chats list. While the interface is akin to that of the Windows Phone and Android Skype apps, it still feels at home on iOS.

The scrolling and the fonts inside of the chat windows are a major improvement over the current version of Skype for iPhone. Additionally, the new app has in-app notification banners so that you can view new Skype messages as they roll in without leaving your current chat window. There is also a nice gesture for swiping quickly between multiple conversations.Skype_5.0_iPhone_port_favorites

At the bottom of each chat window, there are quick buttons to access voice calling, video calling, and an additional options panel. The entire experience is cleaner, more fun, and now poses comparisons to the fluidity of Apple’s in-house iOS Messages app.

New to Skype on iPhone is a Favorites tab that provides large profile icons of the people you talk to most. The interface is similar to the icon tiles on the Windows Phone home screen, but it still feels at home on iOS. As Schneider said in our interview, “we rebuilt the Skype for iPhone calling experience to fit seamlessly into iOS and optimize for mobile users.”

He also noted that iOS is the last platform to receive Skype’s new look, and this means that the iPhone expierience received the full attention of all of Skype’s mobile app designers. As Schneider noted, “we created this version with very high standards and went the extra mile to make sure we were proud of every design component we included.”

Rounding out the ground-up redesign are improvements to two areas: more integrated chatting and messaging synchronization.

Using the new chat button, group chats can more easily be created from an iPhone. Messages to offline users can also now be sent and received, and those messages will appear upon the user’s next sign-in into Skype.

Skype_5.0_iPhone_profileCertainly important to me, Skype now has improved message read/unread notification syncing between multiple devices. So if I have Skype running on my iPad and my iPhone and I read the message on my phone, it will, too, become read on my iPad.

Speaking of notifications, Schneider said that Skype is aware of the interactive notifications enhancements in iOS 8 and that the company is excited about the possibilities for Skype with those new features. While Skype would not confirm which additional features it is considering for the iOS 8 update, it would make sense for the firm to develop a Notification Center widget to quickly access contacts as well as an extension to share content via other apps through the Skype app.

While the 5.0 update is being announced today, Skype is aiming to actually release the new version sometime next week. Skype has no specific announcement plans for an updated iPad app, but a new version for the Apple tablets is in the works, according to Schneider.

At a time when Apple is adding improved group chatting and media messaging to iMessage, when Facebook is buying up messaging apps for billions of dollars, and ephemeral messaging apps are popping up at a rapid pace, the original king of messaging is taking a new step onto Apple’s platform, and I believe that users will appreciate the faster interface, fresh design, and much improved chatting.

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20 Responses to “Skype for iPhone gets ground-up redesign; top designer talks future iPad & iOS 8 updates”

  1. Hopefully now I’ll actually get Skype notifications when people message me. What a train wreck Skype has been.

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  2. Stop working on redesigns and fix notifications, stupid Microsoft!

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  3. This article is nothing but an advertisement for Skype, complete with video. Since when does any program, even a program more popular and prevalent than Skype ever get this much page ink for a simple update?

    I know that in reality, they probably didn’t, but the the first thing that comes to mind when I read this is just “how much money did they pay you” to write it?

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  4. Eli Matar says:

    Ugly buit right in.

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  5. I’ll believe any improvement once I see it. Like Andrew Messenger said, Skype has been a train wreck on my iPad to the point where it is completely unusable. Beyond the pretty new fonts, is Microsoft going to improve their customer service to anything beyond, “did you try restarting your [insert device here] to get Skype to work?”

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  6. John Smith says:

    Looks like something for four year olds.

    On Thursday I’m using Skype for an online meeting with a group of attorneys in Japan. Is this the sort of image I want when I’m conducting business?

    Like Apple, Skype is lucky that they are an established brand, but they need to be careful that this childish image doesn’t hit brand loyalty amongst professionals. What market are they after? Children and their pocket money/allowance or professionals with deep pockets?

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  7. Bispo Guerra says:

    Something similar in Linux ?

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  8. iPadCary says:

    Skype is soooo ’00s ….
    Everyone I know has Apple hardware, thus they have FaceTime.
    And with FaceTime-Audio, what need is there for me and this Skype nonsense? Plus, they’re contro– ah, owned by
    you-know-who, so eff them. In thier mouths. #RIPRikMayall

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  9. The only issue I still don’t see tackled here, and perhaps the only one I really care of, is the inability to modify the phone number box by manual input and not defaulting it to the US (+1) for every call. I mostly use Skype for international calling and it’s a pain in the butt not being able to pull my contacts phone numbers from my iPhone address book. This worked pretty well before Microsoft, but not so much anymore after the move.

    it’s been largely documented here in the Skype forum and not addressed properly yet. C’mon Skype, do something good again!

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  10. While they are at it, can they PLEASE rewrite Skype for OSX??? It is DOG SLOW in all respects.

    It used to be such a nice software…

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  11. One of the worst apps ever to have graced humanity.

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  12. Reblogged this on andreasc88 and commented:
    Ένας νέος κόσμος επικοινωνίας από το Skype, έρχεται.

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  13. Mark Kwong says:

    The app’s animation and UI interaction sucks bad. The looping, the weird unnatural transitions, weird bounces. The scrollview loop is especially disorienting.

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  14. Marklewood at Serenity Lodge says:

    I stopped using Skype long ago. Every once in a while I’ll re-install just to see what all the hype is about when I read some review or another. But frankly, with all the built in functionality found in my Apple devices, not to mention other apps, (Facebook, etc), I can’t understand how they stay afloat. What is the selling point these days, that sets it apart?

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  15. Please, how do i delete contatcs? How do I see their profiles? How do I clean the chat history on this new version?

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  16. why did they drop the access to iPhone contacts? This makes using Skype-Out calls really hard from the iPhone!!

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  17. The new Skype is really appalling, so much so that I searched for somewhere to vent like this page..
    It is overdesigned, the text is not accessible (I am partially sighted and rely on iOS bigger text sizes which of course Skype iOS completely ignores. The app is slow to start up or switch to/from other apps. Messages take forever to sync between devices and the overall UX is dismal and unintuitive, I mean what were they thinking making the navigation left/right swipe and also huge font that takes up precious real estate on the screen?

    I am forced to use it due to work and it is always a chore on mobile, I think the designers should be politely reassigned to a different project and a new team brought in that are more aware of trends in best usability for mobile device (they exist).

    Like