Skype on Surface RT – So Buggy It Gets a Blog Post

There are bugs. Lots of them. Most notably whilst using the Skype app. People I’m speaking with sometimes turn green, but I don’t tell them to avoid confusion and hang-ups and continue talking to the green person.

Sometimes my video will freeze and plays a 1 second loop of my head bobbing or nodding or whatever movement I was making at the time of the screen freeze. The repetitive head/face motions from the looping makes me look deranged/possessed to the other person.

Other times, Skype seems to think I need to be reminded of old instant messages whenever it feels I need reminding. A barrage of notifications that take up the entire top right of the screen accompanied by an annoying sound is thrown at you in all its buggy glory. Cue old adage: “that’s not a bug, it’s a feature!”

The user interface is pretty horrid, too. Again with the tiny buttons only a Swiss watchmaker could love. For example, it’s not very easy to switch between front and back camera. Nor is it easy to mute the microphone. To do so, whilst holding the tablet landscape style (the only way to hold it), one must either let go with one hand, hold the tablet with the other and press the button on the bottom center of the screen with an index finger. Or, you can reach with your thumb for the bottom center of the screen which is awkward because the Surface is long and thumbs are generally short. Skype is not making use of RT’s screen edge navigation* that eliminates the need to move hands and arms around whilst using this thing. It seems as if the designers have yet to discover “design.” Harsh, but to make it more comfortable/easier, they could move the options bar (which contains camera switch; mic mute; options etc) from the bottom center of the screen to a menu that is summoned when you swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen. Then, with logically placed buttons around where the thumbs are, you can easily use the functions!

But, it does what it’s built for, it makes video calls. Buggy and awful, but functioning. Their iPhone/iPad app isn’t great either; it actually doesn’t function as well, but has fewer bugs. It’s like Skype is giving us a life lesson  about compromise: “Sorry, kid, ya can’t have it all.”

* Edge navigation is when you can use your thumb to swipe from the all four edges of the screen to bring out a menu/options for whatever app your using, including Windows RT itself.

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