Last June, Skype outlined its intentions for a friendlier, more mobile future: make Skype more reliable, without sucking up juice in the background; make Skype sync messages across all devices; and design the app so that it looks like it fits in with the guidelines of its mobile platform.
Slowly but surely the company has been iterating on its promises, improving the app on home base Windows Phone, while adding important improvements to its Android and iOS versions.
Today, with version 4.17 for iOS, the company has switched on two-way HD calling for iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display users. The limitation of SD video calling was first imposed because of hardware: the iPhone 4 and 4S sported relatively low-resolution front-facing cameras. This changed with the iPhone 5, which was the first to enable HD calls, and Skype worked to ensure the three new devices with 64-bit A7 chips are also compatible.
Perhaps more important, though, is that this new version improves the messaging experience for all Skype users. Specifically, messages sync much more quickly between devices, and (finally!) can be received when the app is closed. As a result, Skype can finally be used as a cross-platform IM tool for both mobile and desktop users. The Android version has been relatively reliable to date because Skype uses a permanent notification to keep the background process alive; Windows Phone has the functionality baked into the OS (though notifications are still unreliable), so users were impatiently waiting for the same thing to come to iOS.
If you’re a Skype user on iOS, this update will likely be welcome news.