Skype update improves business collaboration with cloud file sharing and new add-ins

The chat system's latest update, released Monday night, includes enterprise-friendly features designed to increase productivity.

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The new Skype desktop app rolled out on Monday with new features aimed at improving professional collaboration and communication, Microsoft announced in a blog post.

With a full list of new improvements and updates, the app allows users to access the same Skype across all devices, streamlining communication for teams using the service for business communication. Top features with big business impact include cloud sharing, add-ins, and multiple tools to increase productivity.

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Skype is now cloud-based, meaning less battery power will be drained by the app and files will be easier to share. Files up to 300 MB can be sent by dragging and dropping, allowing business users to share files in the same spot where they're communicating.

Add-ins, which are available to Skype Insiders, let businesses customize the app by adding new features that will help them get more work done. While the announcement didn't list specific add-ins other than Giphy, an image of the app's interface shows about 16 options including Bing Search and Upworthy. Bots for companies like StubHub and Expedia are also new, expediting the process of planning events and getting travel information.

Multiple new features are designed with business productivity in mind. A notification panel lists all of your mentions, new messages, and if someone quoted you in conversation, giving users one spot to check everything involving them. The chat list feature lets users organize their contacts by unread messages, time, or status, along with pinning frequent contacts or groups at the top of the list for quick access.

Additional features include customizable themes for the interface and a media gallery with files, links, and content that someone has shared with you. Status updates also returned, letting users set an away message to let others know if they're on a call or have stepped away to grab lunch.

The features make Skype easier to use as a business communication platform, increasing the ease of working remotely or combining teams in different locations.

Skype users can manually update to the newest version by visiting Skype's website. Mac, Linux, and Windows 10, 8, and 7 users can have the app auto-updated if they have the auto-update function turned on.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Skype is rolling out a new desktop app, designed to streamline and improve personal and professional communication.
  2. Top business-minded features include cloud-sharing, add-ins and bots, and notification and chat lists.
  3. The features put Skype on par with other business communication platforms like Slack, making it easier to connect with remote workers.

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Image: iStockphoto/LDProd