Skype is the one stop solution for all video conferences, whether official or personal. The awesome quality of video, speed of transmission, and voice clarity, has made it extremely popular among those who need to hold video calls often in an affordable way. So Windows phone users are expecting to have a reason to rejoice now that, on April 22, 2012, Skype has announced an app for phones based on Windows OS. Microsoft, which owns Skype, has made the app available to users after two months of beta testing.
The high expectation levels are natural. Being from a common base, Skype and Windows could have made the best team, each working on the other’s strength. However, when it comes down to a hands-on analysis, this new development turns out to be a bit of a disappointment.
The interface will feel familiar because it uses all of Skype’s conventional colors and sounds, and is based on Microsoft Metro User Interface. The basic functions are covered perfectly; there is no reason to complain about voice quality, call speed, and consistent connectivity. However, when it comes to other features that make an app unique and successful, Skype for Windows falls sort of flat.
One major problem is that the buttons are incredibly tiny, almost invisible, and really difficult to access by a flat fingered person. This includes the buttons to open the phone, access your online contacts, and the one to manage your profile. If you are going to have to squint at your phone’s screen to find important buttons, then the interface design is glaringly faulty. Also, when we open the app, instead of being able to see a list of friends who are online on Skype, we are shown the entire contact book stored on the device.
But perhaps the most irritating feature is that there is no way you can run this app in the background. Every time you close the app to open something else, you are automatically signed out and the app shuts down. So you will not be reachable to your Skype contacts unless you have the Skype app open actively on your phone. This makes the app very useless for who need to stay available to their contacts on Skype at all times.
The Skype application is only available on high end Windows smartphones, such as the Nokia Lumia 800. However, if you are using a low end Windows smartphone, or a Tango phone, the memory capacity on your phone will not support this app.
In light of the incredible features offered by Microsoft’s chief rival Google in its Google Voice Android app, we feel that Microsoft should have taken a proactive approach and wooed its users with an innovative, amazing app, instead of the very mediocre one on offer now.