5 ways Skype is about to get a whole lot better
18th Nov 2013 | 14:45
Something to talk about
Microsoft has been working hard to integrate Skype and Lync over the past few months, yet there are still a number of advantages that Lync continues to hold over the big blue cloud.
The good news is that Skype told us that it's busy working on a number of these projects, and we could see them transported to Skype in the near future. Here are five ways that it might be about to get a whole lot better.
1. Bulking up on mobile
Skype is already big on mobile devices but it knows it needs to be even bigger. Karlheinz Wurm, General Manager of Product and Test for Skype and Lync Real Time Media, said that right now the teams are prioritising work on battery life and startup time for Skype on mobile, the fruits of which we were told we should start to see soon.
Skype is also working on improving the multi-device experience - another area where it can currently frustrate. Having to wait for your phone to catch up with your conversation history because you've been Skyping on your tablet for the past few days feels like an unnecessary annoyance.
"You need to be more cloud centric so some of that information is easily synchronised between the devices," said Wurm. "Our focus will remain, but even stronger, on the mobile use case, on nailing the multi device case,"
So rest assured, making sure your devices are faster to catch up with one another is right at the top of Skype's 'to do' list right now.
2. Better immersion
Skype is currently a mono audio experience but during our time in the Skype labs we were reminded just how much of a difference stereo can make when using Lync. There are clear consumer benefits to this too and Skype strongly hinted that it is interested in carrying that functionality over.
It's definitely something that could be particularly useful if you're in a discussions with several people, where it can be hard to distinguish who is speaking at certain times. And with stereo microphones becoming more commonplace in laptops, the time feels right for better immersion on the audio side.
3. Killing the background noise
Pesky background noise is something we all could do without when we're struggling to hear a Skype caller, and we'd class keyboard tapping as one good example. Skype has confirmed that it's looking further into its typing suppression feature from Lync and considering how it can get it running on Skype.
Typing suppression already exists in Google Hangouts although this merely mutes the microphone when you start tapping away - Lync's solution actually filters out the noise.
Skype's Program Manager of Audio and Video Processing, David Hands, said "We're evaluating it for Skype", but didn't give a specific time for when we might see the feature arrive.
4. Free group video chatting
One of the best things we found out this week is that Skype is looking to make its group video calls service free.
Right now Google Hangouts allows for group calling at no charge so Skype's requirement for a premium subscription to use the same feature is a little frustrating.
"It's something we want to do in the near future" said Yasmin Khan, product manager for Skype Premium. "We realise this is an urgent need for our Skype users."
5. 3D Skyping… possibly
Back in August Microsoft's Corporate VP for Skype Mark Gillett confirmed that work had been done on Skype for 3D-enabled devices. When we asked Skype if it was still in the process, Head of Skype Labs, Adriana Dumitras, wouldn't directly confirm anything but suggested that Skype was still looking into it.
"It's one of the interesting options and one of the interesting things that inspires many things to think about," she told us.
With the future of 3D looking pretty uncertain right now (although maybe Gravity can help turn that around), Skype's 3D venture might be destined to remain in the lab forever. However there are plenty of other experiments that Skype is carrying out right now, according to Dumitras.
"There are very exciting things we're working on, some are in the experimentation model, some others are close to being features."