Skype has suffered from feature bloat and poor performance for years. Instead of creating a leaner video and messaging experience, like Google has done with Duo and Allo, Microsoft today announced a brand new Skype experience with a mishmash of features from other apps.
All of this may sound familiar if you have been using Skype Preview for the past few months. Most of the changes are related to the chat screen, which has been split into three tabs - Find, Chat, and Capture. The Find screen allows you to quickly share content from a variety of services without leaving Skype, such as searching for a GIF from GIPHY or finding a YouTube video. Microsoft is calling these services "add-ins," and more will continue to be added.
Moving onto the Chat tab, you can now add your reaction to specific messages in Skype, similar to Discord and Slack. Text bubbles can also have gradient backgrounds, just like middle school PowerPoint presentations.
Finally, the Capture tab has a viewfinder for taking photos and video. The interface is almost a carbon copy of Snapchat, and once you're done recording, you can annotate the screen with text, emojis, and drawings. Skype also has 'Highlights,' its version of Snapchat Stories, because everyone is adding Stories these days.
Microsoft says the update will start rolling out to Android users today, with iOS, Mac, and Windows updates coming soon. We'll update this post with the APK as soon as we have it. If you want to avoid a cluttered Skype experience, I've been using Skype Lite for the past few months with few problems (an occasional dropped call and no group video chat).