Microsoft unveils a massive redesign of Skype, heavily plagiarizing Snapchat


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there's a hell of a lot of flattery going on in the world of chat and messaging apps. Such is the level of feature borrowing and design inspiration that we're entering a phase of unbridled homogeneity. This isn’t enough to put off Microsoft, of course, and today the company lifts the lid on its latest -- and arguably most radical -- redesign of Skype.

Coming first to Android -- as is becoming increasingly common for Microsoft these days -- the Skype redesign boasts a fresh new look that makes it clear from the start that things are going to be different around here. While Skype is well known for its voice and video calling capabilities, now the focus switches rather more toward messaging; as Microsoft puts it: "chatting is front and center."

While the bright new look is hard to ignore, this is not a redesign that's just about aesthetics. Microsoft says that Skype has been "rebuilt from the ground up" and this means aping the likes of WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger. The Highlights section is where you can see the "highlight reel of your day", much like stories in Facebook or Snapchat.

Skype also borrows Facebook's reactions, and this is something that's even available in calls. Microsoft has placed a lot of emphasis on the personalization options in the new version of the app starting with simple things like customization with color, but extending to add-ons and beyond:

Of course, relationships go beyond simple conversations. With the new Skype, it's even easier to turn talk into action with group conversations, add-ins, and bots. The new "Find" panel takes center stage, and makes Skype infinitely searchable. Looking for seats to a big game? Pull ticket pricing and seating options directly into the chat with the StubHub bot. Trying to find the perfect recipe for the brunch you're hosting? Discover the latest trends with the BigOven add-in and learn the many ways you can make that avocado toast. Planning a weekend getaway with old friends? Chat with the Expedia bot to check flight times and pricing. And that's just the start. New add-ins and bots will continue to be added, making your Skype experience even more rich and robust. With the ability to connect to your favorite businesses and brands from within the app, the simplest conversations can pave the way to lasting memories.

You can get a brief glimpse of what's new in the video below:

Android users are first in line for the update, starting today, and it will then make it was to iOS, Windows and Mac.

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