Microsoft bought Skype a while back and they finally released a Skype app for Windows Phone, but it sucks. It’s probably the worst Skype app on any platform… mainly because it doesn’t support push notifications and can’t receive incoming calls or instant messages when the app is not loaded into the foreground. As soon as you switch to a different app, the Skype session is signed out. Although it is probably the best looking Skype app out there, the functionality leaves a lot to be desired.
What’s worse, Microsoft just released updated Skype apps for iOS that bring some great new features including photo sharing. The Skype apps for iOS also work great with push notifications and incoming calls even though their limited background task functionality is similar to what has been implemented on Windows Phone 7. It’s not like it isn’t possible to design a Windows Phone voice-over-IP app that’s capable of receiving calls when it’s not in the foreground. The Tango video calling app will show a notification pop-up when some one is calling and you can tap the notification to accept the incoming call. Skype doesn’t support this however.
It kind of reminds me of how the Bing apps for iOS and Android were once much better than the Bing apps on Windows Phone 7. Originally, Bing on Windows Phone 7 was very lacking in the features and functionality departments. Here’s an older video comparison of Bing Mobile on a variety of platforms. The next version of Bing that was integrated with Windows Phone 7.5 brought a lot of new features that took it up to speed with other Bing Mobile apps and surpassed them with some new features not found anywhere else. Features like indoor maps, music search, Bing vision translater, and local scout made it the best Bing experience around.
Perhaps that’s what might happen with Skype on Windows Phone. Its first version is very basic and lacking, but they’re probably secretly working on a new version of Skype for Windows Phone 8 that will surpass all other mobile Skype versions. Windows Phone 8 does have special API’s for heavily integrating voice and video communications apps with the operating system. I think we can expect the Skype for Windows Phone 8 app to be integrated with the operating system in a way that’s much more comprehensive than any other smartphone. You’ll probably see Skype and Skype Out calling options right within the contacts, messaging app, and phone dialer. You might even see a Skype camera lens option that let’s you start a Skype video call from the camera app.
What do you think? Is Microsoft holding out on releasing a really good Skype app for Windows Phone or are they just being lazy when it comes to supporting their own smartphone platform as some might think when seeing the current Skype app?