Microsoft announces visual updates and enhancements to the Skype app

Microsoft has updated the Skype app with new themes and added color schemes to let users select their favorite color on light and dark themes for Skype.

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By Sumit Roy

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Microsoft has announced a number of new features and enhancements for the Skype app, including new themes and header colors, real-time translation of Skype to Skype video calls, a new mobile Skype calling experience, and more.

New themes and header colors

Skype themes

Microsoft has updated the Skype app with new themes and added color schemes to let users select their favorite color on light and dark themes for Skype. It also comes with colored headers and message bubbles in chats. Users can select Skype themes by opening Skype Settings, Appearance, and choosing a color. The company has updated the high-contrast themes color themes as well for better accessibility.

New mobile Skype calling experience

Skype calling stage

Users on Skype can now start video calls with up to 100 participants for up to 24 hours everyday. The company said it is bringing a completely new and improved mobile calling stage so that the users can have the best mobile video calling experience. Microsoft also ensures that the Skype mobile experience matches the current desktop call stage, and users can use light themes and beautiful backgrounds for participants without video. Further, the app comes with technical enhancements that improve the stability and performance of video calls.

Personalized articles and news

Skype Today tab

Microsoft has introduced a new Today tab on Skype that will show personalized articles and news stories from trusted sources across the globe. Users can personalize topics by choosing their interests. To manage and add interests, users need to open the Today tab and tap Manage next to My channels. Next, users can either select options under Discover interests or search for specific topics. The company is gradually rolling out the Today tab for iOS and Android users.

Real-time voice translation in Skype video call

Microsoft has launched the real-time voice translation of Skype to Skype video calls. According to the company, users can “have a conversation with someone who speaks a different language, and the translation will happen automatically, in real-time, as the conversation is taking place.” Artificial Intelligence will automatically detect the languages in a conversation during a video call and translate them in real time.

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To achieve this, Microsoft is using a combination of speech recognition technology and natural language processing, which understands and interprets spoken words and translates them into the desired language. Users can also use their natural voice, and the AI will tune the translation to match the sound of the user. Translations are available for different languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and more.

To enable the feature on a call, users need to tap the three dots (More menu) and select Translate. Skype will provide instructions to both participants to start translating the conversation. Real-time translations with natural voice will be available to group video calls and Telephony in January 2023.

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Sumit is the Editor-in-chief at OnlyTech. He loves to cover news about Windows PCs, Android, Smart Devices, and more. You can always find him experimenting with electronic devices when not in front of a computer.

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After Microsoft acquired Skype earlier this month for $8.5 billion, most of the questions revolved around how Skype's IM, voice and video calling features will fit into Microsoft enterprise products such as Outlook and Lync.

But an equally important question is: How will Skype fit into your enterprise license? And will you end up paying for it even as you don't use it?

"It's just one more nugget that Microsoft will bundle into an overall enterprise agreement," says Jeff Muscarella, and executive of IT at NPI, a consulting firm that advises enterprise IT buyers.

Muscarella compares Skype to Microsoft's 2006 acquisition of Softricity. This paved the way for App-V, an application virtualization technology that is rolled into MDOP (Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack), Microsoft's suite of on-premise PC management tools for customers with an enterprise agreement.

"You have to have an EA to use MDOP," says Muscarella. "But most of our customers don't use MDOP and they don't want it. But they are paying for it. And they have to wrangle with Microsoft to unbundle it."

Like most big tech vendors, Microsoft is making an aggressive push into the mobile and unified communications spaces, with Windows Phone 7 and Lync, respectively. The Skype acquisition is a great way to round out the UC features within Office, says Muscarella, but he adds that many big companies already have UC products in place, whether it be through Cisco WebEx or Microsoft Lync.

"If you're moving down the UC path with some of the other players like Cisco, there will be UC overlap and you won't need Skype," he says.

"Skype will probably be part of an Office and Lync CAL [client access license], so customers will have to ask themselves whether or not they need Skype. If the answer is no, they need to know if they'll be able to unbundle it from the CAL. Microsoft will probably make that difficult."

Muscarella notes that enterprise vendors like Microsoft, Oracle and SAP often push back when customers try to unbundle parts of an EA.

"You go back to Microsoft with a list of 10 requests and they'll say no to eight of them," he says.

NPI has hired former Microsoft employees who understand the minutiae of the software giant's enterprise agreements and know the right lingo to use. For instance, many customers are not aware of the free testing and QA (quality assurance) services available to them if they are members of the MSDN or TechNet programs.

"There is a lot written in fine print and you have to go to Microsoft and quote chapter and verse from the user rights section of the EA," says Muscarella. "If you don't do that, or don't know where to find those EA clauses, Microsoft is happy to charge you for everything you do."

It's not clear yet how Microsoft will fit Skype into its enterprise product line or its enterprise agreements. Muscarella predicts that Skype will continue to be free for consumers and small businesses, but warns enterprises that Skype may be snuck into a suddenly more expensive CAL, even if it's a dollar here and a dollar there.

"If you have a lot of desktops - 500 or 1,000 or more - the license costs will add up quickly."

Despite the mainstream attention the acquisition received and Skype's popularity with consumers, it still ends up being just another technology that Microsoft can roll into an EA to potentially impose added or unnecessary charges on a business.

"It's potentially a license gotcha like anything else," says Muscarella."You have to make sure you are not forced into a one size fits all model and fight with Microsoft to whittle the EA down to what you need."

Source : PC World

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Skype is software for calling other people on their computers or phones. Download Skype and start calling for free all over the world.
The calls have excellent sound quality and are highly secure with end-to-end encryption. You don't even need to configure your firewall or router or any other networking gear.

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