​Microsoft launches Skype Lite, LinkedIn links up with India's biometric ID system

Microsoft is hooking up with India's national ID system to deliver services from Skype and LinkedIn.

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Microsoft's Skype Lite free Android app has been optimized to run on 2G networks or in challenging network conditions.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has built a lightweight version of Skype, dubbed Skype Lite, designed for areas with patchy mobile networks and available initially in India. The company has also launched Project Sangam, which pairs Microsoft-owned LinkedIn with India's ID system, Aadhar, to connect people with jobs and training.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the Skype Lite Android app at its Future Decoded event in Mumbai, calling the India-developed app "a client built for the connectivity speeds in India".

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The free app is available on Google Play and is just 13MB in size. It has been optimized to run on 2G networks or in challenging network conditions, and supports seven languages, including Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.

Skype Lite features SMS filtering, mobile, and Wi-Fi data-usage monitoring, and Skype bots for the Indian market. It also uses less data and battery power, thanks to compression of photos and video files.

Nadella highlighted the Microsoft Garage India-only app, Kaizala, which is being used by the government of the Andhra Pradesh region to help coordinate a major local festival by, for example, conducting polls, assigning jobs, and managing bills across workgroups.

Nadella said that "same insight about how India is reshaping technology is what we're bringing to Skype" in the form of Skype Lite.

Interestingly, Microsoft announced that both Skype Lite and LinkedIn will integrate with Aadhaar, India's gigantic biometric identity scheme.

"Looking ahead, Skype plans to bring Aadhaar integration to the app by June 2017, which will enable Skype users to verify the identity of unknown callers in a variety of situations where identification verification is required, including job interviews, goods, and property sales," says Microsoft.

Nadella said it will ensure Microsoft services support Aadhaar both for business-to-business and consumer services.

LinkedIn's integration with Aadhaar is via Project Sangam, reports The Hindustan Times.

Sangam is an online training and job-networking app that caters to all Indian workers rather than LinkedIn's traditional white-collar demographic.

"The company will allow people to enroll through Aadhaar cards and later utilize LinkedIn to manage their profiles," Nadella said, BGR India reports.

Sangam will host training material aimed at job hunters, who can access it after logging in with Aadhar from Microsoft, according to The Hindustan Times. Users can create a LinkedIn profile and enroll in different courses and access materials that are available offline. The project is still under private preview. Nadella said that LinkedIn currently has 39 million users in the country, the publication noted.

Today's product launches follow the recently announced partnership Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce marketplace, which will implement Azure computing services in its own data centres.

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