A much-awaited overhaul to the VoIP voice and video calling service means that from next month, current plug-ins, third party apps and devices that use Skype drivers, such as headsets, will no longer work.
The timing may leave something to be desired seeing as it's one of the busiest times of the year for making and receiving calls and sending messages, but a move toward a more compact and mobile device friendly Skype is being welcomed. At the moment, the service is great on the desktop but there is a noticeable drop in quality when consumers try using it on the fly with a smartphone or tablet and a mobile internet connection, in particular, with instant messaging. But in order to make it better on the go, the service's code needs to be changed and that means that existing apps that have been designed to work with or add functionality to Skype are going to stop working.
As the company explains in a blog post on the matter: "As people are using Skype on more devices, we're also working hard to create a more familiar and consistent Skype experience across all major platforms. The Desktop API was created in 2004 and it doesn't support mobile application development. We have, therefore, decided to retire the Desktop API in December 2013."
The API or Application Programming Interface is how software components speak to each other and is what developers have been using to write apps and features that communicate with Skype in its present form. The coding language is about to change and Skype is yet to issue a new API meaning that, for the time being at least, developers will not be able to adapt their apps to work with the new version of the voice and video calling service.
This means that as well as applications, such as for recording Skype chats, anything that needs drivers to work with Skype -- such as cameras and headsets -- will lose some functionality. Microsoft, Skype's owner, has noted that Skype-certified headsets will continue to work as headsets but any physical buttons on the devices used for making, receiving or rejecting calls will no longer work and so users will have to make do with the buttons within the Skype application itself.