Skype has rolled out an option for iOS and Android users in the U.S. and Western Europe where they can expect to start making group video calls from their smartphones and tablets in the coming weeks.
The all new feature will allow users to hold conversations with up to 25 friends at once. Skype designed two new views for group video conferences: the first allows users to see one another in a grid, and it’s designed for calls with a handful of people. A second active speaker view shows a big picture of the person talking by default, along with a small, scrollable row of other participants.
A user can also “pin” someone, so they can always see a large view of the most important person in the conversation for them. Users can change who they’ve pinned during the call, or remove the pin and go back to Skype’s default mode of primarily showing the person talking. It’s worth noting that this update doesn’t just allow mobile to mobile group video calls, where everyone is staring at a smartphone or tablet.
Adding group calling to Skype on mobile devices is important for Microsoft, as the company faces increased competition from services like Google Hangouts, which also offers group video calling across platforms, and often comes pre-installed on phones running Android.
For users outside the U.S. and Western Europe, this feature will be rolled out soon, may be sometime in March.
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