Skype for Windows Phone is a pleasure to use, with great improvements made to make using Skype and multitasking much easier.

Some improvements were made back in May regarding the reliability of chat and call notifications and message previews. And now further improvements have been made to Skype 2.6 for Windows Phone 8, making it a smooth system to use.

First I will be discussing some of the improvements added to Skype for Windows Phone and then we will take a look at some of the basic and more advanced features.

Available for download here, Skype for Windows Phone includes these new improvements:

Start and Resume Performance – Increased speed when returning to the app when it is in the back stack.

Live Tile Count – The Live Tile now displays only the number of unread conversations rather than the total number of unread messages making this cleaner and more organized.

Availability – Skype for Windows is now available in South Korea.

Skype for Windows Phone works with 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi. Most of you will already have a Skype account but might not yet be using it on your Windows 8 Phone. Maybe now is the time to try it!

With many of us now working outside of the office or away from family and friends, having Skype on your Windows Phone is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to keep in touch.

If you want to run Skype on your Windows Phone, you will need Windows Phone 7.5 or 8, with more than 512MB of memory.

Once you have downloaded the Windows Phone Skype software from the Windows Phone Store, just follow the simple setup instructions to create your account.

After you have signed into Skype for the first time on your Windows Phone, the next time you launch Skype you will be signed in automatically. After downloading, you will find the Skype app within your app drawer where you can then log in.

Next I will cover some of the main and basic Skype functions for all you newbies that you will want to start with using on your Windows Phone:

Adding a contact

To add a contact in Skype on Windows Phone, first Start Skype

Tap  1

Select Add People.

Search for a friend or colleague by their Skype name, email address or phone number.

Once found, select them from the result list and tap Add to Contacts.

Enter a quick message to introduce yourself if you desire then tap Send.

Once your contact request has been accepted you can start to chat.

To make an audio or video call

Select a contact you wish to call.

Tap the Call icon 2 for just audio calls or tap the Video Call 3 icon  to video call.

Send an instant message

Tap the Chat icon 4 where you can select the friends you would like to add to the conversation.

Type your message into the text box and tap the send icon 5.

These are the main and basic functions to get you started with Skype. As you start to familiarize yourself with Skype for Windows Phone, you will find more and more useful features.

Here are few advanced features you may find useful too:

Preview messages directly from the Start Screen

Although you might have Skype pinned to the Start Screen, you may still not be able to preview your messages. By increasing the tile size you can preview messages straight from the Start Screen. Here’s how to resize them:

Tap and hold the Skype Tile.

Tap Resize 6 until you get the size you desire.

Tap Start 7 to set.

Use Skype while Multitasking.

Skype for Windows Phone allows you to multitask without disrupting your Skype call. For example, when you are in a call, you can return to the Start screen, view profiles, send instant messages, and switch between front and rear cameras, all while continuing your call.

Lock screen notifications

 If you are out and about this is a great feature to set to allow you to see any new Skype messages at a glance. To turn on lock screen notifications:

Open Windows Phone Settings menu.

Select Lock Screen.

Tap 8 .

Select Skype.

Skype on your Windows Phone is a great tool for anyone on the go who needs to be easily reachable through a free video, voice and instant messaging service.

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