Skype Lite, the 13MB video-calling app that works flawlessly even on a slow network, could well be the answer to the woes of scores of mobile users struggling with call drops and barely-workable data speeds in India.
A lighter version of Skype, the video conferencing service from Microsoft, sits light on the OS and weighs less than half that of WhatsApp, which occupies about 31 MB on the Google Play Store. It works on Android OS, and even on low-end smartphones.
Skype Lite was launched exclusively for India and will come integrated with Aadhaar verification by June. This will enable users to authenticate the identity of an unknown caller, say, in case of a job interview. All that the caller has to do is to enter his or her Aadhaar number over Skype. "The Aadhaar data will be deleted automatically from the device once the Aadhaar-verified skype chat is over," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has assured.
When Techcircle tried Skype Lite, the video calls went through without hiccups on the 3G network. The video, audio and frame rate quality was far superior to that of what we currently experience on WhatsApp. It is light on data usage, and also allows you to mute the audio, switch the video off, or put the speaker on while you are on a call. The app also tracks real-time use of data both on WiFi and on the service provider's network.
Skype Lite doubles up as your default messaging app and dialler, apart from keeping a log of your calls. It accommodates seven Indian languages â€“ Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
It also offers a host of chatbots, including Horoscope, Your face, Skype, Skype Support and the AP Transport Authority bot. The AP Transport Authority bot helps users get information on licences and registration, among others.
"It is a good strategy for Microsoft as it can reach more people. Traditionally, Skype was used by enterprises and a certain segment of people. If you look at their mission statement, it is to enable more people and businesses to use its service," Tarun Pathak, senior analyst, CounterPoint Technology, told Techcircle, adding: "If you look at SMEs, connectivity has been an issue. But this version of Skype is the lightest and fastest till now, and also comes in different languages, and this will help small businesses. Since it is Aadhar-linked, it can expand the use cases for them. So, you dont have to spend more resources in verification while interviewing or selling."
Skype Lite will later be made available for iOS and Windows. Earlier this month, it was reported that Microsoft was disabling Skype for older versions of Windows and Skype.
Nadella had also announced Project Sangam, to connect the skill learning programmes directly with relevant jobs through a platform that brings together Microsoft's cloud technologies and LinkedIn's job-search capabilities to help address skill gaps in India.
Kaizala, a productivity app, was another gift from Nadella that would help organisations connect with mobile-only users to get work done on a simple and secure chat interface. "With the transformative power of the cloud, we are enabling Indian start-ups, businesses of all sizes, and government agencies to build new digital capability, find new growth and seize the opportunities ahead," Nadella had said during the launch.