Skype’s year of inspiration, celebration, translation and innovation

As 2016 comes to a close, we’re looking back at the moments that have marked our year here at Skype. With a mission of doing things together whenever you’re apart, we’ve developed more text, voice and video features to make it even easier for all of you to share experiences with the people that matter most.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of 2016:

Skype Bots: We released some intelligent little helpers to increase productivity and make planning tasks easier than ever. From finding gig tickets with StubHub, to planning flights to your perfect vacation with Hipmunk and Skyscanner, or simplifying shipping with UPS—you can achieve so much more, right from a chat window. We’re looking forward to taking the next steps in artificial intelligence and conversational computing in the upcoming year.

Hipmunk Skype botSkype Translator: Since 2014, Skype Translator has been breaking down language barriers, making it easier for you to connect with people around the world. This year we added Arabic and Russian to our seven existing spoken languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, and Portuguese). These languages have joined over 50 IM languages in text-to-text translation—bringing the world closer together.

This week we’ve started to roll out the next milestone for Skype Translator: voice translation for calls to mobiles and landlines for users on Skype Preview for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. This means you can use Skype to call people on their phones* and communicate across languages—even if they don’t have Skype. So now you can save time before you travel by calling a restaurant to book a table, or a hotel to make a reservation, without worrying about the language barrier. (*Requires Skype Credit or a subscription to use. To learn more, please visit Skype.com.)

As we mark the two-year anniversary of Skype Translator, we’ve seen people from all over the world using it to connect to friends, family and enable them in business. One of the stories we came across was that of New York fashion designer Bing Cai, founder of ‘Alouit New York’—a company that creates comfortable stilettos (yes you read correctly!) and uses Skype Translator to communicate with their factory in Italy.

See how Skype Translator helps inspire and encourage people to think beyond all limitations:

Skype Preview for Windows 10: We’ve been working closely with the Windows team to build a new Skype—redesigning the app to work seamlessly with Windows 10 and taking advantage of the Universal Windows Platform. This summer, we rolled out a faster and easier way for Windows 10 customers to use Skype which comes installed on the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

Skype Preview for Windows 10Group video calling on mobile: Group video calling continued its evolution when we introduced the feature on mobile phones and tablets—enabling you to video call up to 25 people on the go, so nobody gets left out.

New personal expression content: We had fun teaming up with Marvel Studios, Coldplay, Monty Python, Angry Birds, Tangerine Band, The Late Late Show and Sir Paul McCartney to create original Mojis and emoticons to add to our collection.

Check out our new holiday themed emoticons and Mojis that will help spread the festive cheer. You can also record a personalized Skype holiday card video to share over Skype, or on social networks including Facebook and email!

Skype filters#SkypeTogether: 2016 saw our partnerships with advocates and influencers come together to form #SkypeTogether—unique ways to access our social community, directly within Skype itself. We kicked it off with #SkypeFit, where we connected a community of health conscious people with influencers via YouTube videos, challenges and Skype group chats. #SkypeTogether also saw our first ever influencer-focused gaming collaboration: #GamingWithSkype. Over the summer, we partnered with ESL and 343 Studios (the makers of Halo) to engage gamers within Skype and via Twitch. At present, we’re excited, to be working with One Nation of Gamers (ONOG) on an exclusive Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft tournament.

Your stories: 2016 has seen lots of inspiring stories showcasing new and original ways that people use Skype. Here are a few highlights:

  • Dr. David Nott used Skype from the UK to oversee surgery in war-torn Aleppo, Syria.
  • Jenn Nicken, founder of The Chef & The Dish, offers cooking classes over Skype with chefs around the world.
  • The 2016 Skype-a-Thon which featured classrooms from 75 countries, travelling almost 10 million virtual miles over Skype, in 48 hours.

Browse the blog for more inspirational ways that Skype is used—and if you have a Skype experience you’d like to share, just tag us @Skype on social media.

From Antarctica to the North Pole, and out of this world to the International Space Station—this year has been full of exiting Skype stories. And we can’t wait to see where you’ll take Skype next!

From our Skype family to yours, we wish you happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

Skype emoticons

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