What you need to know
- GroupMe on Android and Windows 10 now connects to Skype.
- Groups can now create group calls to Skype without a Skype account.
- Microsoft is trying to compete against Zoom.
Update: Microsoft has pushed out an update to GroupMe on Windows 10 (v 18.104.22.168), which adds the same Skype icon and the ability to schedule calls.
Microsoft has effectively ignored its GroupMe chat and messaging client ever since it took over Skype years ago. Despite some essential app updates over the years and Microsoft seemingly having other priorities, the chat service remains popular amongst college kids, especially in the U.S.
Some of that may be changing. Microsoft is rolling out an update to the GroupMe client on Android that lets you easily create a Skype group call. While it's not quite a native integration of Skype VOIP, it sure is better than nothing, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The feature is simple enough. At the top of the chat is the Skype logo. Clicking it asks if you would like to create a Skype group call with those in the room. Once you accept, it generates a link and posts it to the chat. By clicking the link, GroupMe hands off to Skype where the group call is created, and everyone can join in with just a single tap.
The feature is built off Skype's Meet Now.
Zoom has seen tremendous momentum as families and friends try to keep in touch virtually during many "shelter in place" restrictions around the planet due to the coronavirus pandemic. GroupMe merely is piggybacking on that Skype Meet Now ability by making it a one-click task to get a group call going.
With Skype Meet Now, users do not need a Microsoft or Skype account to join the call. For years, that has been a barrier to entry that a service like Zoom does not need.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft will push out this feature to its Windows 10 and iOS GroupMe clients, but it is probably likely.
The bigger question is, will Microsoft give GroupMe the attention it deserves, or just let it wither.
Thanks, Jason H., for the tip!
GroupMe is a chat and messaging service that lets you connect with friends, family, and more by creating rooms and groups.
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