This article originally appeared here, on New York Magazine’s website.
Ah, Skype. Not too long ago, the messaging app’s name was synonymous with the act of video-chatting — and when your brand name becomes a verb, it’s generally safe to say that you’ve made it. However, in recent years, the rapid rise of apps like FaceTime and Snapchat have slowly but surely chipped away at the number of people saying things like “Skype me!” with a straight face, and left the app seeming somewhat out-of-date.
Skype’s latest announcement seems to be a response to exactly this issue. The app’s newest update — the “next generation of Skype” — is a complete redesign of the program that somehow manages to sew together elements from other popular social-media apps, such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Slack. The new Skype seems to be centered less around the idea of its users having an actual face-to-face video call with someone, and instead focuses on promoting a casual chatting experience through the use of a sleek-looking messaging platform that includes a variety of new ways to share multimedia content. In other words, as Facebook and Instagram turn themselves from social networks to personal messaging platforms, Skype is transforming in the opposite direction,
Users can now visit the “Highlights” page — which is similar in form to Instagram and Facebook’s take on Snapchat Stories — in order to share photos and videos to their network. Friends and family members can react to each other’s Highlights with emoticons, or comment on it to start a private conversation. Users can also directly send their Highlights to an individual or group.
The “next generation of Skype” also features a “Find” panel, which takes a Slack-like approach to the messaging platform by introducing infinite searchability and a wide host of different bots, in order to help with daily tasks. Notable inclusions include a StubHub bot that will supposedly help find you tickets to the “big game” and a BigOven add-in to aid you in all of your avocado-toast-related queries.
Soon, everyone will have the opportunity to add their daily stories to yet another platform, as the update will be coming to users gradually over the next few months, appearing first on Android devices, then iPhones, and eventually on Windows and Mac computers.