Skype reveals new features in Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 apps

Microsoft’s Skype is an important communication tool used by millions around the world to remain in touch with one another. The service is available cross-platform, but Microsoft is looking to update both its Windows and Windows Phone apps, just in time for the two platform updates.

Windows Phone 8.1

If you were watching through the live stream from Build 2014 yesterday you would've seen Windows Phone head, Joe Belfiore demonstrating Windows Phone 8.1 and including Skype into the mix. A new feature in the update is to ‘upgrade’ a standard phone call to a Skype call. It’s a massive improvement, in case you wish to quickly switch to video chat with minimal downtime.

The next improvement for Skype coming to Windows Phone come in the form of Cortana – your new personal assistant. Skype “will work closely with Cortana”, enabling you to easily start calls with contacts. Simply say “Skype, call Nicolas Cage.” We doubt the celebrity would answer, however.

It’s all part of Microsoft’s plan to make Windows, as a whole, more social.

Windows 8.1

As well as Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 8.1 Update 1 also received some love at Build yesterday and Skype for the desktop (and tablets) will receive improvements too. With mouse and keyboard users finally being taken seriously, you’ll now be able to pin the Skype app to the taskbar and use it as if it were a standard application.

It can be viewed as a minor change, but this will open up new levels of productivity for those used to the familiar Windows experience when using a mouse and keyboard. The new Windows 8 version will ship alongside Update 1.

Do the above improvements sound good to you guys?

Source: Skype

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.