In 2014, Skype launched the mobile only app Qik, a video messaging app that was meant to operate alongside the main Skype app.
Described as an effortless way to document and share the world around, the app’s biggest offering was the ability to turn short videos into conversation starters, with the ultimate aim of making video messaging as spontaneous as the traditional messaging.
The videos on Qik can only be 42 seconds long, but are rectangular instead of the normal triangular. The app has its own custom encoders, which produce distinct videos and smaller files. The video message is downloaded first, followed by a ping to the receiver with a push notification. This is so that when the user opens the video message, it is ready to view. Sharing videos is instant, with no option for previewing the recording before sending it. Another interesting feature is the ability to switch between the front and back cameras when recording, with no conceivable lag between the two camera modes.
Qik is essentially a Skype application; so, naturally, it is all about the videos. However, that is as far as the similarities go. It feels different from the original Skype brand. It does not ask for a Microsoft account or a Skype username to log in. Instead, like many of the modern messaging services, it uses the mobile number of the phone user, pulling contacts from their mobile phone contact list. If one gets into a conversation with someone they do not know, Qik allows for them to be added to the phone contact list.
If a friend sends a video to a user without the Qik app installed on their phone, then they will receive a message informing them about the app and what it requires. The App requires Android 4.1 or higher, a Windows 8.1 phone or higher or the iPhone 4 or higher. According to Skype, the reason for these requirement limitations is for the working of the custom encoders. The app also has a huge emphasis on privacy, maintaining that contacts remain on the phone and are not uploaded anywhere.
Qik began several years ago, entering the market with a bang and beating the likes of YouTube in terms of mobile streaming. This caught the attention of Microsoft and Skype. They acquired it and retired the original app, but returned a more lightweight version into the market. There are multiple video messaging apps, but Snapchat is arguably one of the more popular. With the new, simpler and lighter Qik, Microsoft seems to be targeting the video chat market now being consolidated by Snapchat. It could not be any simpler; there is no need for an account or registration. One simply downloads the app, signs up with their number and begins sending videos, much like texting. There is no audio or chat, just pure video.
Skype is responding to the big trends in the industry, taking on the likes of Snapchat by bringing its strengths into the mobile only Qik app. It is facilitating the move to spontaneous video calling.