Microsoft has built a new communications app that uses the Skype backbone, and is launching the first version of it on Android, iPhone and Windows Phone devices on October 14.
The new app, Skype Qik, is available worldwide in 21 languages for all three platforms. All three versions of the app are free (and ad-free) and are downloadable from the Google Play Store, Apple App Store and Windows Phone Store.
A small team within Skype developed the video-chat app during the past six months, officials said. The intention of the application is to address the part of the mobile market that is moving away from scheduled, one-to-one communications, said Principal Program Manager Lead Dan Chastney.
With Skype Qik, "we wanted to maintain intimacy between Skype calls and wanted to be as lightweight and convenient as SMS and IM," Chasney said.
Although Skype Qik is part of the Skype family, users don't need to have Skype in order to receive Skype Qik video messages. All that's needed to communicate is a mobile phone number. No contact information is stored in Microsoft's or any other company's cloud.
If a user has Skype Qik installed s/he is notified within the app when a message is received. If the app isn't installed, the user receives a SMS with a link that provides a download for the app. The message will be waiting once the app is installed.
The short Qik messages -- up to 42 seconds in length -- self-destruct (like Snapchat,) after two weeks. Users have the option of changing their minds and erasing any video they've sent from a chat, whether it has been watched or not. Users also can block contacts on Android phones and Windows Phones, a feature which will be available on iPhones "in the coming months."
Users also have the option of sending pre-recorded Qik Fliks, which are up-to-five-second GIF-like video messages. Qik Fliks are available now on Android and iOS and "in the coming months" for Windows Phones.
A few months before Microsoft bought Skype, Skype itself bought video-messaging vendor Qik for $100 million back in 2011. A Microsoft spokesperson said the new Skype Qik app does not use anything from Qik other than the brand name.