All Sections

Skype hopes to tackle instant video messaging with Qik. We go hands-on

We met up with Skype at Microsoft’s London offices to go hands-on with a new mobile-focused video chat experience dubbed ‘Skype Qik’.

When you hear the name ‘Skype’ you’re probably familiar with the company’s ubiquitous video chat software, but now Skype Qik (pronounced “quick”) is looking to translate the experience into a more mobile-centric affair. Piero Sierra, one of the program leaders working in a small team based at the company’s Palo Alto offices gave us a tour of the new app and how it hopes to take on the mobile video chat market.

Born out of a desire to keep the conversation going between traditional Skype calls, Piero explained that Qik is the response to three key trends that the company had recognised with the existing Skype experience: the transition from desktop to mobile, the explosion of communication modalities and the fact that in its current form, voice and video calling are premeditated actions.

With the move of desktop computing to mobile computing drawing the way people communicate over various methods along with it, Piero and his team identified the need for new ways to utilise the Skype experience. Skype Qik isn’t a replacement to its more established sibling, but rather a complimentary service for those times when you don’t want or need to embark on a 40 minute-long video conversation and would rather take it with you.

The concept behind Qik sees video clips of up to 42 seconds being shared between a single (or a group of) user(s) selected from your contacts list. “Why 42?” we hear you ask, well as Piero pointed out when we queried the seemingly arbitrary video length, he simply reminded us that it’s, “the answer to life the universe and everything.” We can’t argue with that logic.

In practice the video length gives you enough time to get a clear concise message across to your fellow Qik users, outpacing the likes of Snapchat, Vine and Instagram’s video messaging limits, whilst keeping the message length brief enough for the purposes of light conversation.

Qik was in fact a standalone startup purchased by Skype back in 2011 and its video encoding technologies already feature in the full fat Skype experience, if ever you leave a video message for a contact to pick up when they’re next online. In the Skype Qik experience, messages autoplay the moment they’re received and can be deleted with a single tap across all devices.

The one-registration design means that, much like Whatsapp and Snapchat, Skype Qik can only ever be linked to one device at any one time, primarily because your phone number is used as a key identifier when other users send you a message.

The beauty of the Skype Qik platform is that following its debut earlier today, it’s already available on iPhones (4 and above), Android (4.1 and up) and Windows Phone (8.1 and up) smartphones. Sending a Skype Qik message to a user without the app will direct them to a download link via text message to connect them up. Even if you’re not a regular Skype user, that has no bearing on your ability to have access to Qik.

To polish off the experience, a user can also have up to 12 ‘Qik Fliks’: five second pre-recorded responses for when filming a fresh or spoken response isn’t possible. Sounds like a good opportunity to get creative…

The overall experience already feels well thought out, convenient and fun. Skype’s looking to its users for input and ideas about where to take Qik and see what they can do to make this new service truly disruptive in the video messaging space.

Check the source link for options to download to your iPhone, Android or Windows Phone.