News: How to Get Skype's New Android App with Native Calling, SMS & Contacts Management

How to Get Skype's New Android App with Native Calling, SMS & Contacts Management

There's no question about it—Skype is one useful program, but has always been lacking in the mobile department. On your desktop, Skype works just fine and all of its options are available for usage. However, the same cannot be said for Android. On Android, you can't even change your status to "Away" or "Invisible."

Until recently, you weren't even able to disallow direct connections or automatically play streamed content. Other common complaints included slow performance, notification issues (primarily, not getting any), and low-quality calls (both audio and video). Perhaps Microsoft finally took a look at the reviews being left on their app for Android and decided to do something about it, because they've just published a new Skype app that's looking to solve all of this.

Enter Skype Mingo

Skype Mingo was released on December 12, 2016 as an alpha testing app for Android users. It was a free app on the Google Play Store and included a multitude of features. Why the past tense? Because it's no longer available on the US version of the Google Play Store (it says "This items isn't available in your country"). We suspect this is because Microsoft reached its quota for alpha testers.

However, if you have "Unknown sources" enabled, you can still sideload Skype Mingo to try it out right now. Just grab the APK from APK Mirror to get started.

If you've used Skype before, some of the basic features like instant messaging and audio/video calling should be familiar to you. However, it's the new stuff that makes Skype Mingo so special.

The newer features include native calling, texting, and contact messaging. This means you can use your own number through Skype to text and call, and you can also edit your contacts.

Think of it as a four-in-one app: your phone app, texting app, contacts, and Skype! The best part is that this "alpha" version is designed to be extremely lightweight and fast, which does make it sound as though Microsoft is taking user input into consideration.

Not all of Skype's existing settings are included, but we do have to keep in mind that is the first release of an alpha app. One of my favorite new settings and features is the "eco calling" option and associated data monitor. It tracks your internet usage and attempts to save you as much data as possible, while making it easy to see how much data you've already used.

Not for All

This alpha variant of Skype might not be for everyone, as it most likely has a few more bugs than what Skype had listed in the Play Store description before it was pulled. It also comes with more features than ever, which might be too much for a traditional Skype user. It's okay if this version isn't for you (we won't hold it against you... maybe).

If you're looking for just the Skype that you know, in a better state than the current Android app is, we do have an alternative for you. Microsoft also released a beta Skype version earlier this year called Skype Insiders, which is also free on the Play Store (and still there). It's just Skype, but with a ton of updates that Microsoft is working on to improve Skype on Android. Check out both apps and let us know which one you like more.

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Cover image by 27707/Pixabay; Screenshots by Kevin M./Gadget Hacks

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