Microsoft’s radical redesign of Skype isn’t going down well. While Android users have had access to the new Skype design for a month, the refresh only debuted on iPhone a couple of weeks ago. Ratings of the Skype app on Apple’s App Store have plummeted worldwide since the new Skype launched. In the UK App Store Skype is now rated at just 1 star, while ratings have fallen from 3.5 stars in the US to just 1.5 stars. The same is happening across European App Store ratings for Skype, and the feedback appears to be very similar.
“This latest update is the most thrown-together looking thing I've seen in a long time,” says one reviewer. “The layout looks and feels nothing like Skype, the chat system is a mess and the Highlights system just screams ‘we want to be as successful as SnapChat.’” Other reviews take a similar tone, with many suggesting this is the “worst Skype update ever.” Even in the Google Play Store, where an overall rating is applied regardless of versions, Microsoft’s Skype rating is starting to slip thanks to many 1 star ratings in recent weeks.
It’s easy to dismiss these as the usual push back from a radical redesign, and Facebook suffers the same reactions every time it changes its newsfeed. However, Skype has been through a number of design changes over the years and the app was already hovering around just 3 stars in the App Store ahead of the big changes introduced last month. People weren’t necessarily happy with Skype before, but this update has triggered a visceral reaction to change.
Microsoft has radically redesigned Skype this time to focus more on messaging, and it has changed what people are used to with Skype. Instead of fixing the many issues around Skype’s notification and sync unreliability, Microsoft has painted over the obvious problems with new features that let you use emoji in video calls and a Highlight option that’s very similar to Snapchat.
Other popular messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have largely stuck to the basics without overhauling their design constantly. WhatsApp’s success comes from its simplicity and ability to use an adaptive design on each platform to match the default messaging experience that you’re used to. Microsoft has tried something new with Skype, and it’s now listening to the painful feedback. Microsoft will now have to either walk things back to simplicity, or push on and hope that Skype users accept these big changes and don’t go looking elsewhere.