Android, iOS Skype apps receive group video call updates

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Microsoft announced Thursday a limited rollout of a group call feature for its Android and iOS Skype apps.

While Skype for Business is not involved in the update, the new feature could point to future capabilities for the enterprise-minded Skype version. Further, it's welcome news to the more than a handful of startups and small businesses who use the consumer version as a low-cost alternative.

Microsoft has been testing the feature with users for the past month. According to the company's blog post, the rollout today will start with Western Europe and North America regions, and the company expects to fully reach those markets within the week or so. Group video calling will reach the rest of Microsoft's worldwide markets sometime in March.

The company said that it believes face-to-face interaction is important for fully maintaining the message, and that's why it's pushed this group video messaging feature.

Skype users are able to communicate with other users across platforms, whether that's a laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet, and the user limit has been increased from 5 to 25. The company further said that calls are optimized for whatever iOS or Android device the user is using.

The new feature also lets users select the format of the call depending on their preferred viewing setup.

"You can flip between a highly immersive grid view that makes you feel like you're in the same room, or you can switch to focus view where Skype automatically focuses on the active speaker, or lets you choose which participant to 'Pin' to the stage. The latter view works particularly well when you have a large group on the call," wrote the company.

The company also said it worked with Intel to optimize its SILK Super Wide Band audio codec for sound quality. SILK Audio runs through the Azure cloud on Intel processors.

For more:
- read the blog post from Skype

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