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Microsoft today updated its Skype for iOS app with new highlight links and multitasking improvements. You can download the new app now directly from Apple’s App Store (iPhone, iPad).

Skype 6.6 for iPhone and iPad now lets you quickly start calls, check locations, and set up calendar events directly from an instant message. This is because phone numbers, times and dates, and addresses are now highlighted.

To take advantage of this feature, all you have to do is tap on the highlighted text. A highlighted phone number will open the Skype dialpad (there’s unfortunately no option to open up the iOS dialer) so you can call with just another tap.

A highlighted address will take you straight to Apple Maps (nope, no option for Google Maps). Tapping on a highlighted date or time in a chat will open the calendar app (the event details will be automatically grabbed from the chat) and insert a Skype chat URL in the calendar notes (just open the event and tap on the link to get straight back to your chat).

Skype for iOS has also gained new multitasking features. It’s now easier to get back to an active Skype audio or video call from your instant messages or contact list: Just tap the active call banner. Additionally, instant message conversations now have an unread message counter at the top: Hit “Back” to see what you’ve missed.

This release appears to be a good mix of keeping Skype users more engaged in the app, while still letting them jump out when it makes sense. The Microsoft-owned company is naturally hoping Skype’s calling function will be used more with this addition, but until the feature doesn’t require buying Skype credits, we doubt today’s release will make much of a difference. The mapping and calendar integrations, however, are really long overdue.

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