Skype is rolling out a major redesign for its iPhone app today in an effort to recapture the messaging market it has ceded to competing companies like WhatsApp and Snapchat in recent years. The new app, which the Microsoft-owned company says it has “remastered” for iOS, adds a number of new features and an improved gesture-based user interface.
Overall, Skype is billing itself as the only app you need to communicate with friends and colleagues. The new app lets you slide easily between different conversations or jump from instant messaging to live video streaming. It also adds in-app notifications, which you’ll see at the top of the screen, so you can stay up to date without ever leaving an individual conversation.
There’s a new Favorites tab, with big pictures of the people you talk to the most, and the redesigned chat window adds a row of bottoms at the bottom for quickly launching a phone or video call. It also adds some much needed notification syncing, so once you read a message on your iPhone it won’t appear as unread on your other Apple devices.
The new Skype is supposed to feel like something Apple might have designed itself, and for the most part it succeeds in that goal. The app is clearly inspired by some of the UI changes introduced with iOS 7, but whether the service will take advantage of new features included in iOS 8 is still unclear. Lead Skype designer Guilherme Schneider told 9to5Mac he’s excited about the interactive notifications in Apple’s new mobile OS, but wouldn’t confirm whether his team is already working on an iOS 8 update.
The new version of Skype for iOS will be available in the App Store sometime next week, though for now you can check out this short teaser video below.