Here at the Future Decoded event in Mumbai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took center stage to unveil the Skype Lite application for low-end Android smartphones. This is a new, lightweight and data-friendly version of their popular voice and video calling app which has been designed to cater to the Indian masses. Yes, it has exclusively been launched for Indian populace who are constantly plagued with network coverage issues.
Talking about the launch with Financial Express, Eugene Ho, Director of Product management at Skype says,
Skype helps people bring them closer together. Skype was first built on PC platform. But, today we live in a mobile-first environment and this is especially true in India.
Connectivity is still an issue in India. But this is the opportunity that we have for Skype. Skype Lite works well on high speed and low band networks. It is powered by the new cloud services and made for consumers in India.
The new Skype Lite app has been developed at Microsoft’s Hyderabad development center and tested with consumers in India before today’s launch. Keeping connectivity at the core of development, the download size of the app has been reduced to 13 MB as compared to 32 MB of the complete app. In addition to the data usage monitoring features built into the app, you’ll be able to save some precious internal storage by downloading this app.
And what’s impressive is that the Skype Lite app packs all the functions available via the platform in the said smaller package. You will be able to perform all major functions like messaging, voice and video calling without any hiccups on sluggish 2G networks as well. It has further been upgraded to consume less battery and introduce a low data usage mode for video calls. Since photo-sharing is pretty common nowadays, the app will compress images before sending them to save on the data usage.
The Skype Lite app allows a user to login using their mobile number or Skype ID and provides them with a redesigned interface. The app includes separate tabs for personal, promotional, and chatbot messages, thus, providing a clutter-free experience to Indian users. You are also being provided the option to integrate your regular SMS and mobile calling features into this app as well. This means you can replace your dialer, messages and Facebook Messenger with this one app. It also bring along the infamous dark theme as well.
But, Microsoft has added a cherry atop their current offering by bringing in additional integrations and customizations. The Redmond giant has decided to integrate an Aadhar identification feature directly into Skype Lite. This feature enables the Indian populace to use the widely popular 12-digit national identification number system to securely confirm their identity. This verified data can be accessed while placing a call and deleted once it is finished.
Further, since Skype Lite has been launched exclusively for the Indian masses, Microsoft has added multi-lingual support to the app. It can be fully localized and supports seven languages, namely Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu. Skype is looking to grab a larger market share in the country with the launch of their data-friendly voice/video client.
Currently, WhatsApp, with over 160 million users, is the most used messaging service in the country. With Skype Lite’s launch, Microsoft looks to be gunning for the top spot.
The Redmond-based tech giant however, isn’t the first to focus its attention specifically towards emerging nations with the launch of data-friendly apps. Google has already participated in such an initiative with the launch of its minimalistic YouTube Go application, which enables you to download low-quality videos and watch them on the go.
Facebook’s continued initiatives in the same domain are well known. Microsoft however, despite a late launch, has at least ensured that it doesn’t get left behind in launching data-friendly apps globally. We could see similar versions of other MS products soon. Stay tuned.