Microsoft reveals Skype Lite, a free, low connectivity app for India

22 Feb 2017

Woman using a phone in Dharamsala, India. Image: Elena Ermakova/Shutterstock

Microsoft has unveiled a new app called Skype Lite specifically aimed at the Indian market, offering low connectivity, chatbots and online verification.

While wealthier nations are eagerly waiting the adoption of 4G LTE and mobile download speeds in the gigabit range, the rest of the world is more preoccupied with building a reliable network for billions of people.

This is why companies such as Facebook are revealing projects similar to, which aims to offer free mobile internet to large swathes of the developing world, albeit somewhat controversially.

Uses less data

Now, Microsoft has revealed its own plans to make Skype the dominant telecoms platform in India.

Supporting nine regional Indian languages, Skype Lite is a telecoms app allowing for video, voice and text calling between Skype users in the country.

Most importantly for areas with low connectivity or expensive data charges, Microsoft said that the app has been designed to use less data for calls and messages.

“Skype Lite uses less data and power by compressing large files such as photos and video content, and therefore requires less battery power compared to the Skype mobile app,” it explained in a blog post.

“This helps to minimise issues with the app draining the battery, especially on older devices.”

Skype Lite

The Skype Lite app. Image: Microsoft

Chatbots galore

Built using Microsoft’s Indian developers, the app is also preparing the country for an AI-powered future with a variety of nation-specific chatbots.

With a Skype bot developer programme revealed last year, chatbots can be installed onto the app that so far range in the dozens, from medical advice to games.

According to The Next Web, the app has also been made compatible with IndiaStack APIs to allow regional and national governments, as well as businesses, to integrate their services within the app.

From June 2017, the app will include the Aadhaar personal security verification, offered to Indian citizens to allow them to conduct secure business or personal activities online, such as a job interview.

Given its relatively open nature, the free app will only be available to Android users in India, from today (22 February).

Woman using a phone in Dharamsala, India. Image: Elena Ermakova/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic