Skype Preview for Windows 10 Mobile is awesome, and you can install yourself

Skype has an all new version of the app headed to Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile this summer. Built from the ground up using the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) the app looks to bring a decent Skype experience finally to PCs and phones.

Over the last few weeks, my colleague at XDA Jeremy "snickler" Sinclair has been toying with a ripped appX version of the Skype Preview for Windows 10 Mobile. Last night, he finally got a working version of it that can be sideloaded to any Windows 10 Mobile device running Redstone (Insider Slow or Fast Ring; 10586 builds will not work). If you follow me on Twitter (@daniel_rubino) you may have seen me tweeting out some screenshots late last night.

Today, snickler has made the file available to all who want to try out over at XDA in a forum thread.

My first impressions? It's awesome, and it looks fantastic. Now, to be clear there are a few areas left that needs polishing and most importantly it does not yet make nor receive Skype calls at least on my device. So keep that in mind if you rely on Skype. For messaging, however, it works great.

How to Install

You can find the full directions and discussion over at XDA, but here is the short version. Remember, use this at your own risk. It is not recommended to sideload external files off the internet, but in this case, I can vouch for snickler and this file.

Before you get started you need to have your phone set to Developer Mode. To do that head to Settings > Updated & security > For Developers and enable Developer Mode.

  1. Download the appX file from Mega
  2. Open the file using File Explorer (double tap)
  3. Say yes to the prompt to install
  4. It may take up to a minute or more to install, and there will be no install dialog/progress bars during the process; it all happens in the background

Once it installs you should see Skype Preview in your app listing. It did replace my 8.1 Skype app. The sideloaded app can be uninstalled just by a long press and selecting uninstall like any other app.

Initial thoughts

Compared to Skype Preview for PC, which is officially available for those on the Insider PC Slow or Fast Ring, I have to say that this app is starting to look superb. Some quick considerations:

  1. It's fast and loads very quickly
  2. It's fluid with very little if any lag (tested on Lumia 950)
  3. The black background and colors look great; I think it looks better than the PC version
  4. The app is intuitive to use
  5. Notifications come in, but only the last one shows up in the Action Center; they are also not actionable yet.

Now, having said that seeing as I could not make nor receive calls explains one reason why this is not yet available! Also, notifications are not entirely fleshed out yet. But, overall, this is a great start and a huge improvement over the current 8.1 model, and it at least gives me hope for a much improve and finally a pure experience for those that use Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile.

Finally, now that Skype is going to be a UWP that means we should see very frequent updates akin to how we get regular updates for Outlook Mail, Messaging, even Calculator gets updated at a bizarre pace. The change in development also means that deeper integration into the OS and even Cortana should be possible, opening up a whole new area for Skype experiences.

If you are on the Slow or Fast Ring Insider build for Windows 10 Mobile I say grab it, see what it's all about and enjoy. Snickler notes that over at XDA he will be updated the appX frequently as new updates come from Microsoft. Of course, Microsoft will eventually release this for all Insiders in the coming weeks making this adventure purely optional.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.