Yesterday, I wrote about the surprise appearance of what we used to call “Messaging Everywhere” in the Skype Preview app in the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so here’s what Microsoft has planned.
First, let’s get the name out of the way. Microsoft had been calling this functionality Messaging Everywhere back when it was supposed to be part of Windows 10. And I referred to it that way yesterday inMessaging Everywhere Arrives (Again) for Windows Insiders on the Fast Ring. But … that’s no longer the name. So we should start calling it by its new name, SMS relay.
Second, let me expand on yesterday’s news, that Messaging Everywhere—sorry, SMS relay—had shown up unannounced in the version of the Skype Preview app in the latest Fast ring build (14926) of the Windows 10 Insider Preview. As it turns out, this functionality is supposedly also present in the same build for the Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview, but having installed that build, I still don’t see it. Furthermore, Microsoft says that this first peek at SMS relay will only work if you’re using build 14926 on both your PC (Windows 10) and your phone (Windows 10 Mobile). So that really cuts down on the number of people who can test this functionality, at least for now.
As noted, I have the build on my PC and my Lumia 950, but I don’t see the “Make Skype your default messaging app” option that Microsoft says I need to set in Skype Preview settings on the phone. So I can’t even test this yet.
But since posting about this feature yesterday, Microsoft has provided a bit more information. And among that information is the SMS relay functionality that is available now, plus the features that Microsoft says it will add in the coming weeks and months too.
According to Microsoft, the following SMS relay features are available now (to Fast ring users):
- Send and receive SMS and MMS messages directly from your Windows 10 PC. This includes texts, group messages, and shared photos. But it requires that Skype Preview on your Windows 10 Mobile handset is set as the default messaging app.
- Hide conversations.
- An Add contact button.
- Support for Skype URIs, meaning you can start Skype calls and chats directly from web sites, and desktop and mobile apps.
In the near future, Microsoft will add the following:
- Improved messaging. This includes message sent status, copy and paste quoted messages, read/unread line indicators, URL previews in chat, keyboard shortcuts, drag and drop of files and photos, drag and drop of URLs from web browsers, and video messaging.
- Easier calling. You’ll be able to start a call or conversation from a contact’s profile page, group calls will continue even when the person who started the call leaves, audio/video device settings are coming, and Microsoft will make loudspeaker improvements.
- Additional Windows 10 Mobile updates. Microsoft will add a transparent app tile, video calls will default to the loudspeaker, and back button navigation will be improved.
Naturally, I’m curious when/if this functionality will work with Android handsets. (I don’t honestly expect this to ever work with iPhone.)
But the best news, in a way, is that Microsoft has confirmed my contention that SMS relay would be added to Windows 10–through Skype—before the next major milestone of Windows 10. That is, by tying this functionality to an app (Skype) instead of the OS, it can happen (and be improved) more quickly. And that’s great news for everyone. Even those who can’t test it quite yet.
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