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Skype Releases Asynchronous Messaging App 'Qik'

Ain't Nobody Got Time to Chat

It’s been well over a decade since Skype became more than just a glint in Microsoft’s beady little eye, and quite a lot has changed since then. Since the release of Skype 1.0, for example, everything is now required to have a touchscreen; we've forfeited the vast majority of our collective attention span; out of nowhere, ephemeral apps have become a thing. So how would Skype look if it was released into the intelligent, touchy-feely, Snapchat-inspired soup that is the mobile marketplace of today?

If you've been wondering (I'm sure someone, somewhere has), ponder no more: the answer is 'a bit different'.

To resolve the burning question, Skype have released Qik - a free mobile app that was developed by a small internal team in the space of a few months. While Qik sticks to Skype's core principal of "keeping people connected", it deviates in a few key ways from the vanilla service. Instead of  providing the live chats that Skype has become so synonymous with, Qik offers asynchronous chatting. This means we can have video conferences with our contacts, even when they aren't online at the same time as us (because who's able to set aside three minutes for a Skype call nowadays)?

If asynchronicity alone ain’t modern enough for ya, Qik’s messages are also ephemeral; as with seemingly every other app released in the last 3 years, Qik's messages eventually dissolve into nothing. But unlike Snapchat and its army of clones, these messages won’t just disappear after their first use. Qik-Qaks, pronounced 'quick quacks' (I just invented this term, and I will sue Skype for all their worth if I see them using it without my permission), will stay on a recipient's phone for a total of two weeks - far longer than messages received through similar apps, which usually cull responses after a single viewing. 

Qik serves as the confirmation that Skype is shifting its focus from PC to mobile. This makes sense, as over half of Skype’s new users now sign up through mobiles instead of computers. Dan Chastney, Skype’s Principal Program Manager Lead, believes that the explosion of messaging apps available (ephemeral and otherwise) has resulted in a world where actively scheduling video calls happens more rarely, forcing Skype and its competitors to tailor for spontaneous conversations instead of planned ones. Being asynchronous, Qik is perfectly suited to this new style of communication. And because it's being advertised as an entirely separate service, it allows Skype vanilla to continue targeting the old-school, who still set aside hours at a time to hold video conferences.
With Qik, Skype are embracing their very own ‘mobile moment’; the point at which a PC-based service becomes more popular on mobile phones. LinkedIn have been preparing for this moment for years, Facebook have been aggressively marketing their services on mobile for a while, and now Skype have put forth their own sacrifice to the mobile gods. Whether it gains traction or not remains to be seen, but if your interest has been piqued then Qik is already available for free on Android, iPhone and Windows Mobile.

Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

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Skype Releases Asynchronous Messaging App 'Qik' Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, October 16, 2014 Rating: 5
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