Microsoft is redesigning its Skype for iPhone mobile app and will release version 5.0 for that platform globally within a week from today, June 9.
The coming update will include "smooth animations and even a few features that aren't just new for this (5.0) version, but new to Skype altogether," according to a post on the Skype "Garage & Updates" blog.
With Skype these days, Microsoft's goal is to provide a coherent mobile experience across all phones and tablets.
Microsoft is committing to providing a consistent look and feel with the Windows Phone and Android phone versions of Skype "while still optimizing for iOS's unique strengths," officials blogged.
The 5.0 version for iPhone is rewritten "from the ground up," officials said. It will be "over 5 times faster than the old version," they claimed, and will include smoother scrolling, transitioning and animations without hurting battery life and overall performance.
iPhone users will be able to start group chats from the hub. Messages and photos can be sent and received with contacts who are offline. And syncing of messages across PCs, tablets, Xbox and other Windows- and non-Windows-based devices running Skype will be synced with the 5.0 release for iPhone, officials added.
Microsoft expects to provide the 5.0 Skype for iPhone globally "in about a week," and a new version of Skype for iPad "soon," according to today's blog post.
Update 1 (June 9): So... what about Windows Phone? No word from Microsoft as to when Skype for WP is getting an overhaul. My guess is the Skype team is following the path that the Office team is and delivering first on platforms with the greatest market share.
As to when Skype users on Windows Phone will get photo-sharing, here's Microsoft's statement, via a company spokesperson:
"We are committed to delivering the best Skype experience on each individual platform for our more than 300 million connected users. This means launching new features like photo sharing as soon as it’s available on each separate platform."
Update 2 (June 12): Looks like it took less than a week. Microsoft officials said the 5.0 version of Skype for iPhone is available for download from the Apple store as of today, June 12.