Microsoft has released Skype Lite, a new app that’s designed for smaller devices and low speed internet access. But it’s only available in India.
Skype Lite allows voice and even limited video calls on slow 2G networks or unstable net connections. Skype text messages are also available.
Images can be compressed before sending to reduce bandwidth. Incoming media files can be only downloaded when there’s wifi available.
All these are great innovations that deserve a wider audience than just out Indian friends.
There are many other places that have limited Internet access. Even in developed areas like North America and Europe there are many situations where the Internet access is slow. Cruise ships have shared and occasionally slow Internet access. Sometimes what is officially a ‘3G’ or better connection is very slow in practice.
Cost is also another factor. In many parts of the world, you pay for each gigabyte (or even megabyte) of internet access. Mobile broadband data rates can be very high so anything that can cut the bandwidth used is welcome.
Availability of Skype Lite would be very handy for all those global situations.
For too long, Microsoft has assumed that everyone has the same fast, unmetered, reliable and cheap Internet access that’s available for their privileged staff. The restriction of Skype Lite to one sub-continent is another example of that unrealistic worldview.
Alas, Microsoft has limited the app to India or, strictly speaking, users with a Google Account based in India.
For the moment Skype Lite is only available as an Android app. The installed footprint is about 50MB, about half the full Skype app.
It’s not just an English language app with interfaces for Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Telug,
A notable omission from the Skype Lite announcement is any mention of the customer security and privacy available in the app. That’s understandable because Skype’s major weakness is the lack of privacy and encryption.
From Microsoft’s viewpoint, Skype Lite could lure customers away from their rivals like WhatsApp. So, how about it Redmond, wanna release Skype Lite to the world?