Skype version 3 has just been released for Android. Skype is a very popular video calls app. It allows free Skype-to-Skype video call. It is also the first to enable call to landline and mobile number, for a fee, of course. Recently it was acquired by Microsoft, with deal finalized in October 2011. To that effect, from November 2012, all Microsoft Messenger user will be migrated to Skype. The migration will be finished by Q1 2013. Skype is also the default messenger and call app in Windows Phone 8 platform. However, the most important thing of interest to us is, “what does skype version 3 update brings to Android Tabler ?”
First, Skype is now optimized for Android tablet. It offers two-column system, similar to the desktop and iPad version. This allows the user to multitask better. You can reply to an instant message directly from the video call screen, no need to go to the app home screen to switch.
Just as Google has launched the new super-high resolution Nexus 10 tablet, the Skype update brings in a redesigned interface to better suit tablet devices and improved quality for bigger screens. Whereas before you’d have to rely on hitting the back key to leave a chat or call to view contacts and other information, the screen is now split into two, allowing you to chat and view information at the same time.
Around two thirds of the screen is dominated by a video or IM chat, while a neat column on the left hand side displays everything from your contacts list to your recent chats and your own Skype profile. We’ve had a quick play with the app and we have to say it’s far, far easier to navigate, with stuff exactly where you’d expect it to be and not several screen taps away.
Additionally, the blue Skype bar that sits at the top of the screen contains contextual options which will change to reflect where you are in the app – options to initiate a video or voice call will be displayed when in an IM conversation, for example.
Second, Skype now offers SILK codec, its own brew wide audio band codec. This results in big improvement in voice and video call. SILK codec has been available for quite some time on the PC. This is the first time SILK is used by smartphones and tablets.
When it comes to call quality, Skype is pushing its wide-band audio codec, called SILK. The company claims this will enhance human voice audio quality, while catering for varying connection strengths.
We gave Skype for Android a quick test and callers reported that the quality was better than expected on the Nexus 10 and that they couldn’t tell it was from a tablet, rather than a desktop setup.
Third, together with the merger of Messenger and Skype, the app now integrate Microsoft account into the login system. You can now login using either Skype or Microsoft account credentials.
What else is new? For those that don’t know, Microsoft recently announced it is retiring its Windows Live Messenger application, and so Skype for Android 3.0 sees the integration of Microsoft account support in order to help phase out WLM. You can now choose to use your Skype or Microsoft account to login. When signing in with the Microsoft account you will get access to all your existing contacts and can add new Skype contacts as well.
These improvements are a welcome addition to the Android Tablet. It helps make easier use of the application.
However, there seems to be issues with the new version, as reported on Giga Om;
I tested the new Skype software on several of my Android devices, both tablets and phones, and with headphones on, the call quality did sound better. But I also ran into two issues. First, none of the microphones on my headsets seemed to work; callers couldn’t hear me when I was using headphones so I had to revert to speakerphone use. I had callers try their headsets and they experience the same issues.
Second, there is a video problem related to screen orientation. For nearly all calls, both participants needed to hold their phone in landscape. Only one time could I actually get my client to properly switch to portrait mode in a video call. Every other time would result in one or both callers turned sideways, or even upside down. Here’s a pic my son snapped of his phone to show the issue.
You can try it for yourself in Google Play Store.
Please share your experience in the comment below.