Why beat them, when you can join them? With Microsoft’s latest update to the Windows 10 Skype app which has added support for SMS Relay for some users, It has become just like iMessage, complete with green bubbles for the uncivilised savages, and blue bubbles for blessed users.
I’ve been using it off and on for a while, and I’m going to express my thoughts on it briefly here. Its a cool concept, even though I can’t say I’ll be using it much. SMS and Skype for personal messaging may as well be snail mail and telegram -but I digress.
As an SMS client, the Skype app is somewhat unwieldy. It doesn’t load as fast as the native messaging app does, it takes a while to populate messages, and it still has some design quirks where it sometimes doesn’t even load sent messages until the app is sent.
On the side of the integration however, mixing SMS and Skype messages is cool in theory, allowing you to have an iMessage like experience, until you give it some further thought.
Imagine 3 people are texting.Two of them have Windows Phones (you’re supposed to imagine),one of them has an iPhone. User A uses Skype preview for SMS. User B uses the Windows messaging and Skype apps separately, and user C has a Skype account, but doesn’t actively use it.
Now if user A is texting user B on Skype, then switches to SMS to save data, then back to Skype when they are at home. They get a single unbroken stream of texts. User B on the other hand, is hopping from the Messaging app to the Skype app and back again.
If user A were to attempt this with user C, the latter wouldn’t receive any of their Skype messages, despite being a Skype contact because the Skype app has no way of knowing if someone is away because they haven’t logged in for a while, or they’ve switched Skype IDs or something else.
The bottom line is, without Apple’s SMS fallback feature (a system which intelligently decides whether to use iMessage or SMS at any given time) as well as absolute control over the way both SMS and Skype messages are received on all devices in question, using Skype as a primary texting app will get messy, and fast. I believe that is probably why Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger – despite both supporting SMS on Android – do not “cross the streams” with their respective services so to speak. I can’t help but think that building a great Skype client as well as a great SMS one would be a worthwhile task.
Have you started using Skype as your primary messaging app? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.