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Skype for Android goes flatter, cleaner with Metro-inspired redesign

Skype's latest app for Android is reworked from ground up and now features a flatter, cleaner redesign inspired by Metro. Are apps and mobile platforms now moving toward this design philosophy?
July 2, 2013
Skype video messaging update

Much has been said about the new trend today moving toward flatter, cleaner and more content-oriented designs. While Apple went for the skeumorphic look since the early iPhone ages, smartphones are now becoming more avant garde, with flat interfaces focused on bringing content rather than style.

Some would even say this is Microsoft’s revenge, with smartphone UI and UX increasingly becoming more like the Zune of old. What? Zune? You read it right. This is especially evident with Apple’s latest iOS 7, which has taken cues from both Microsoft’s Metro design concept, as well as Google’s user interface standards for Jelly Bean.

Skype for Android app

Skype, with its latest update on Android, follows with the same design philosophy — flatter, cleaner and more focused on content. Some would even say Skype’s latest redesign takes cues from Windows Phone. After all, Skype is now owned by Microsoft, and it’s only natural for the Redmond company to try to bring some of its own brand and image to other smartphone platforms. Some even claim that you might mistake your Android device for a Windows Phone while Skype is running, if you don’t look closely enough.

Perhaps the first thing you will notice is that when you launch Skype, the first view that will greet you (apart from the login screen, of course), is your most recent conversations. This seems to indicate that Skype is now more focused on bringing conversations front-and-center with this new update.

Skype for Android update

But the changes go beyond skin-deep, though. Apart from the flatter design, is that Skype is more responsive and takes less resources than older versions. Conversations — instant messages, calls and video messages — should be more easily accessible. While the app is supposedly version 4.0, developers say it’s a brand new app that has been “rebuilt from the ground up to make it faster and more reliable.”

Here’s a brief rundown of what the latest Skype update has to offer:

  • Swype left and right to switch across the conversations/recent view, favorites view and contacts view.
  • Tap on the phone icon to the lower corner left for quick access to calls.
  • You can now attach files and video messages in chats.
  • Instant messages are now differentiated by shade or tint of blue, which helps differentiate your messages from your correspondents’
  • You can now start group messages right from the Android app.

No word on whether the iOS variant will also get an update with the same design treatment. It’s likely that Skype will either go for the same look-and-feel, thereby following the same “Metro” like treatment, or make Skype look more at home with iOS7 once officially launched. What’s clear at this point is that Skype is trying to become more competitive in the mobile scene, especially with the popularity of cross-platform messaging apps, like WhatsApp, LINE, Viber and others, which are crowding out Skype in terms of user uptake and revenue.

Have you tried the latest Skype for Android update? What do you think of the new interface?