Most modern instant messaging apps today have encrypted communications. It is not only a baseline security feature expectation, but also good for marketing so users trust that app. For example, one of today's most popular apps, Telegram Messenger has built its success by providing proprietary encryption right from the beginning for all communications.
Their messages are encrypted so they cannot be decoded by a third-party. Once this was made popular by apps like Signal Messenger and Telegram, the same security features were added to other messengers like WhatsApp, Viber and so on. The Skype app was the only messenger which lacked message encryption. Finally, the team behind the app has added the missing functionality.
These days, message encryption is important for many users. They often prefer apps which provide an extra layer of security and privacy over non-encrypted messaging apps. So, adding this feature is very important for Microsoft to keep its Skype user base.
As of this writing, Skype comes with an experimental "Private Conversations" feature, which adds end-to-end encryption to chats and audio messages. It is not available for video calls yet.
Microsoft is using the Signal Protocol, developed by Open Whisper Systems. Currently, it is enabled in the Skype Insider Preview app. Once they finish testing, it will be added to the stable version of Skype.
When you start a private chat, it will be hidden from the chat list. The notifications for such chats will be disabled.
Start a Private Conversation in Skype
- Tap or click the + button.
- Select New Private Conversation.
- Select the contact you'd like to start the Private Conversation with. You will be taken to a new chat with them.
- An invitation will be sent to your contact asking to accept your invitation. This invitation is valid for 7 days. If they do not accept before then, the invite will expire, and you will need to send another one.
- Once the contact has accepted, your Private Conversation will be available on that specific device. If you'd like to move the conversation to a different device, you would need to resend the invitation to your contact.
Skype text messaging and audio calls getting encryption is better late when never. Skype is finally joining the majority of messengers which have been offering message encryption for long time. Unfortunately, the implementation in Skype is quite strange. The user has to start a special type of conversation, while all other messengers encrypt all messages out of the box. Maybe things will change once the feature hit the stable branch of the app. We do hope that encrypted Skype communication is turned on by default, and not opt-in.
The Private Conversations feature is now available for Insiders with Skype version 220.127.116.11 for all supported platforms.
So, what do you think about this new feature? Do you welcome chat encryption in Skype? Tell us in the comments.
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