Skype has announced that it now offers group video calls on its mobile apps for smartphones and tablets on both IOS and Android devices. This feature began being rolled out on Thursday in Western Europe and North America and everyone in those markets is expected to receive it over the next week. The company plans to have group calls available worldwide in March.
Users will be able to join any group call no matter what platform they are using. This will allow up to 25 people to join one group call. Skype has worked closely with Intel to assure that the video and audio quality is a good as possible. Another feature that has been added to the mobile app is an invitation feature that allows users to add anyone to a conversation, even if they do not have a Skype account.
The interface, which has been designed specifically for use on smartphones and tablets, is highly flexible. The user will be able to chose between a “grid view” and a “focus view.” The “grid view” shows everyone in the call and according to Skype, “makes you feel like you’re in the same room.” The “focus view” automatically focuses on the person who is currently speaking. It also allows the user to “pin” the person they would like to focus on. The “focus view” will be useful for when there are a lot of people in the call.
Not all platforms will have full access to the features. Regarding Windows 10, the company does not have a specific time frame for when the platform will have access. “Windows 10 Mobile users will be able to receive group video calls, but they will only see the active speaker on the call,” a Skype spokesperson told CommonGeek.
Skype is not the first to offer group video calls for mobile phones. Google Hangouts have offered a group call with up to 10 people for about three years. This is while Apple’s FaceTime still only allows one on one video calls.
Group calls for Skype does have its limits. According the Skype Fair Usage policy from 2010 group video calls have a limit of “100 hours per month with no more than 10 hours per day and a limit of 4 hours per individual video call.” If these limits are reached the video call will switch to an audio call.