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Microsoft's Skype moves into the mobile video messaging realm

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Skype is spinning off its mobile app in the form of Qik, a messaging platform that encourages rapid exchanges of video messages with a 42-second cap on capture time.

Skype Qik is available on the Android, iOS and Windows Phone platforms. The new messaging app just requires verification of the sender's phone number, allowing smartphone users to jump aboard the new platform without slowing adoption via Skype registration.

"We know you love your weekly Skype calls with family or friends -- Qik keeps you connected in between," says a Skype representative. "Dinner with friends? Bored at work? Having a great day in the park? Go on, share it right from your phone. You'd be surprised how quickly a short video can turn into a great conversation."

When the time isn't there or that place is unsuitable, Qik users can respond to video messages with short, GIF-like responses -- the feature isn't quite ready for Windows Phone, though it's available on Android and iOS now. Skype says the app comes prepackaged with a few short responses, but users of Qik can create and store their own five-second replies when they can't star in a new 42-second video.

"It's easy to swap video messages with groups of friends and show everyone what's happening down at the pub, catch up on the latest gossip, or make everyone jealous with your thrift shopping finds," the Skype representative says. "But don't worry, your silly videos won't live on for all eternity and come back to haunt you."

While each Qik video is kept within 42 seconds in length, the files themselves last two weeks before they dissolve. Users can also erase videos they've sent and block users from sending them content.

Around the time it was itself acquired by Microsoft, Skype picked up mobile streaming service Qik for $150 million. Qik was closed down in April, but it has been reworked and revived in the form of Skype Qik.

The unveiling of Qik comes roughly a week after the Skype team announced a pair of large updates for the Mac and Windows version of its desktop app.

The pair of updates were rolled out to employ some of the mobile app's popular elements into the desktop versions, while adding consistency across the buttons in each of the program's menus. Like Skype's mobile app, the desktop versions now use picture thumbnails and chat bubbles to make messaging exchanges more enticing.

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