If you can’t beat them, join them, as the saying goes, and Microsoft has now joined Facebook in trying to out Snapchat by being a better Snapchat.
In a blog post today, Microsoft formally announced its redesigned version of Skype which it had previously been testing on the iPhone and Android. This update is a modern take on Skype, which has long since drifted from its video calling focus to become a more generic chat app, possibly due to the fact that every chat app that matters has a video calling component.
The app looks much better overall in the chat view, allowing users to customize their own chat bubbles to be more expressive. The typing indicator is more lively and colorful now, in fact, everything just looks all round better. The blue of Skype is gone, replaced with a monochrome black and white everywhere else, which looks quite similar to Instagram’s own modern, monochromatic redesign.
Microsoft is also adding in Highlights, its own variant of Snapchat’s stories. You can take photos or videos of your day, and post them in your highlights reel for your friends and family to look at, comment or what have you. It’s a blatant attempt to ride the wave of Snapchat and Instagram’s stories popularity, but that’s not a bad thing. To quote Instagram this week, it’s just “competition”.
This isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt to take on Snapchat with a Skype-branded property, Skype Qik was an earlier attempt which very much had that idea at its conception. This is, however, the firm’s first try at turning its main app into a Snapchat expy. Whether users will pick it up, is yet to be seen. Microsoft’s Skype may have the users, but it still very much percieved as a video calling rather than a messaging app in the vein of WhatsApp and Messenger, this update is Microsoft’s attempt to flip that narrative on its head.
The mobile-focused update is rolling out first for Android, with iOS in the coming weeks and Mac and Windows 10 apps getting their own updates later this year.