Microsoft has been making a strong attempt to become platform-agnostic under new CEO Satya Nadella, and as part of that effort, the latest update to Skype for iPhone ditches the iOS look-and-feel for a design that is definitely Windows Phone-influenced.
Skype for iPhone 5.0 is a major redesign, with several interface and performance tweaks. I downloaded it from the App Store and was pleasantly surprised that the performance seemed significantly improved: Lag was almost imperceptible, and when there were slight delays they were ameliorated by fluid animations.
Aesthetically, the updated app looks very similar to Windows Phone, using Microsoft’s Segoe font, and a Windows-esque ribbon navigation bar at the top. On the bottom of the screen now lies a pair buttons that put the two most used-features based on context at thumb-point. For instance, when opening the app, you get a dialer and and a messages shortcut. While in a conversation with someone, you’ll get buttons to call them or start a videoconference. The interface is logical enough that I found myself wishing Apple could combine its dialer and messages apps in a similar fashion.
The new Skype client makes it easier to start group chats and it also syncs notifications across devices — even if the recipient isn’t logged into Skype when the message is sent. The increased emphasis on text messaging makes sense, especially as startups and established companies strive to be the one messaging app to rule them all.
If you’d like to give the updated Skype for iPhone a spin, you can download it from the App Store for free.