Apps like VNC or Window’s Remote Desktop Connection have long been an invaluable tool for kids tasked with remotely solving their parents’ computer woes. But Skype might soon be the new secret weapon when it comes to helping baby boomers figure out how to use their new-fangled smartphones, as it’s soon rolling out a new screen sharing feature on its iOS and Android apps.
Microsoft’s been on an upgrade spree with Skype in recent months, bringing support for up to 50 users at a time (do you really want to chat to that many family members at once?) and a novel feature that uses artificial intelligence to automatically blur what’s in the background of your video chat. For the iOS and Android versions of the app, users will soon be able to share their smartphone screens during a call. Microsoft suggests this will be useful for sharing PowerPoint presentations, or collaborating with friends as you swipe your way through Tinder matches.
But the real power of this new feature will only be understood by anyone who’s ever had to talk an older family member or friend through their smartphone’s Settings section over the phone. Instead of having to describe what they should be seeing and where to tap, users can now just demonstrate where a certain feature or option is. It’s not quite as useful as just completely taking control of their mobile device remotely, but it’s easily the next best thing, and much easier to set up.
Skype’s mobile screen sharing feature is currently only available in the most recent 8.3 beta version of the apps, so if you want to try it out now you’ll need to sign up for the Skype Insider Program if you’re not already a member. But a member of the Skype team has told us it should be rolled out in the official version of the app sometime this month if you can wait just a few more weeks.