In September 2013, Microsoft updated Skype on Windows Phone to include video messages. Unlike a video call, which requires that the other person be online so you can have a conversation, you can simply record a video message and send it off for your recipient to view the next time he or she signs in to Skype.
To make a video message, select a name from your contact list to begin a chat. When the chat screen appears, tap the tiny plus sign icon next to the text box and select video message.
The app then launches your front-facing camera (there is a button to switch cameras here), and once it focuses, you can start recording by touching the red dot. There's a 3-minute limit for your message, but if you want to make it shorter, tap the red button again to end recording and review your video before you send it.
I had a lot of fun with the video message feature since it was easy to use and the videos I recorded looked clear. I sent a video to a friend over Wi-Fi, and he said it looked good on his end as well.
A notable feature of Skype on Windows Phone, that doesn't exist on the Android and iOS apps, is group chat. Once you start a chat with one person, you can tap the plus sign next to the text box to add participants from your contact list. However, you can't add additional people to a video or voice call, a feature that's only available on Skype's Windows and Mac apps.
Though the Windows Phone version of Skype gets a boost with group chat, it's missing features found in the other mobile Skype apps. For instance, you can view your Skype profile in the app, but you cannot manage your account or purchase Skype credits. Credits allow you to make voice calls to landlines and mobile phones in the app (voice and video calls to other Skype users and messages are free). To make changes to your Skype account or buy credits, the app opens a Web page in you phone's browser, but in the iOS and Android versions, you can do both without leaving the app.
For an app built by Microsoft for the company's own mobile operating system, I was hoping that Skype for Windows Phone would have at least the same features found on the other mobile apps. But as is the case with many Windows Phone apps (see Microsoft's own Facebook app), if you want to make any account changes, you'll have to use a Web page on your phone's browser instead of staying in the app.
While the app does pack the core Skype features into a simple, clean interface, and includes a few welcome extras to boot, its so-so video quality and lack of functionality make it feel half-baked. For messaging, video chatting, and calling your friends and family when you're away from a computer, Skype for Windows Phone will get the job done. Power users will want to stick with Skype on Windows or Mac for better video and advanced features.
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