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Skype targets rivals with a new iPhone app focused on group chats

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Microsoft is planning to refresh its Skype for iPhone app next week, with improved features and an entirely new user interface. With Apple’s iOS 7 release, Skype’s app has started to look a little dated, and the new version addresses that by adding in new animations alongside a more modern look. Most importantly, the new update solves the discoverability of sending photos to your contacts with a new file picker inside the chat window. While the existing version supports photo sharing, it’s currently hidden away in a menu drop-down item.

While Microsoft isn’t adding any Snapchat- or WhatsApp-like features to Skype, the new iPhone update makes it easier to create group chats from the hub and clearly targets the competition. Photos and messages will also be sent even if other recipients are offline, meaning they’ll see the messages once they’re available on Skype again. Microsoft is also addressing its Skype message sync issue across phone, PC, and tablets with this latest update. Conversations will be marked read on the new version of Skype for iPhone if you’re using Skype on a desktop PC, tablet, or Xbox. "This is the biggest change ever to Skype for iPhone," claims Microsoft’s Eric Lin. The Skype for iPhone update will be available "in about a week," followed by a new iPad version soon.