Microsoft wants to put Skype in as many hands as possible as it faces up to competition from WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. On Skype for Android, the company has introduced a new update that will enhance its goal.
The changelog shows the app has now been optimized for devices running older Android builds. Microsoft has tweaked audio and video performance so Skype will work on low-end devices. On any other platform, this would be pointless. However, on Android it is a welcome decision and arguably essential.
That's because Android is an incredibly forked platform. Hundreds of millions of users are on older Android versions, and many of them will never be on the latest builds. It is an embarrassing situation for Google that Microsoft may be able to take advantage of.
By optimizing Skype for low end hardware, Microsoft is ensuring the app can be used by people on older Android versions. This opens the service to potential customers in emerging markets, where older Android builds are common.
The new version of the app allows devices running Android version 4.0.3 to 5.1 to run Skype. Microsoft explains the app is now “lighter on both disk and memory consumption,” and users will experience better audio and video. The company confirmed the update will be available globally this month:
“This update—starting to roll out in the next few days—is lighter on both disk and memory consumption, allowing for greater speed and better audio and video quality on lower end Android devices, as well as increased performance in challenging network conditions. This update builds on our mission to connect people from wherever, whenever, and from whatever device possible.”
We have been waiting for Microsoft to take this path since Facebook launched Messenger Lite on Android last year.
Over on the normal side of the Skype for Android, the app for all versions of the platform was last updated at the start of February. Microsoft said users can now easily switch between speaker, earpiece, wired, and Bluetooth devices.