Skype has announced a preview Universal app for Windows 10

Skype describes new app as a “fruit salad” for communication

Skype has announced a preview of its Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app for Windows 10, with the build being made available to Windows Insiders over the next few weeks.

The UWP app – which can be used on phones, tablets and desktop PCs – is said to strip away the clutter and duplication of previous Skype iterations, and will eventually include features such as group voice and calling. This particular feature has been rolling out on Android and iOS since February.

At the tail end of last year, Skype brought out a consumer preview for Windows 10 integration – touting separate, built-in apps for messaging and video. Skype says it learnt a lot from that experience, and found that while task-orientated apps worked well for smaller screens, users of smaller screens tend to prefer a single, all-in-one app.

“On small screens, these integrated apps worked really well,” Barbie Stafford, director of product marketing for Skype, told Alphr. “For these guys, what they wanted from us is continuing to improve features and performance. For larger screens, the story was quite a bit different.”

Stafford went on to describe the relationship between function-specific apps and the UWP in terms of fruit. “One of the pieces of feedback we got from a gentleman in Spain really stuck with me,” she explained. “As he was pondering the concept, he looked up and said: ‘I get it. It’s like having an app for an apple, an app for a pear and an app for a banana. I know exactly what I’m going to get everytime I take a bite. That’s what those integrated apps are for.’ This app we have today is like a fruit salad, where we get all the flavours at once.”

While the UWP app will by its nature work for both phones and desktop PCs, Skype says it intends to make the UWP preview available alongside the function-specific apps.

“We’ll continue to invest in the built-in apps, with the focus on small screens,” said Stafford. “What that means is we’ll continue to add features. Last month we added picture sharing and emojis. In the coming months, we’ll add typing indicators, read and delivery receipt, and group video calling.

“Focusing on larger screens, what we’ll do is deliver a fully featured UWP hub app,” she added. “So messaging, calling and video, all in the same app for Windows 10. You can think about that as ultimately replacing the Win32 app on larger screens and the Silverlight app on Windows Phone.”

The plan seems to be that, while the UWP app is initially based only on the needs of desktop users, it will eventually become the dominant app for all devices. “Over time, we’ll streamline all Skype for Windows 10 experiences into the Skype UWP app, but we’ll do this in stages,” the blog reads.

You can read more about the UWP preview build via the Skype blog.

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