Skype founder backs rival Wire to ‘reimagine’ the communication industry

Skype’s co-founder Janus Friis is backing a new startup that could revolutionise the communication industry.

Wire, which combines elements of Skype, WhatsApp and office-centric tools like Slack, has been developed by a team of 65 people and is expected to launch as an app on iOS, Mac and Android devices next year.

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In an interview with the Guardian, Friis explained why he has such high hopes for the platform.

“What attracted me to Wire is that it is something truly new. This is not some marginal improvement. This is not just an app,” he said. “This is not just attacking one feature trying to do something marginally better. What the team has done is a complete from-the-ground-up reimagination of what communication should be. I wouldn’t have been interested if this was just another feature.”

The service will focus on conversations, which can be one-on-one or among groups, into which users can insert images, SoundCloud tracks or YouTube videos. The app will also automatically sort the user’s contact list based on how often they’re called and at which times.

According to chief executive Jonathan Christensen, the app will boast “hundreds of features” alongside the highest audio quality. Users will be able to “ping” contacts to get their attention, mute conversations if they’re getting distracting and reveal a variety of action icons by swiping to the side.

With communication apps often the target for surveillance and spying programmes, the firm, which is based in Switzerland, has promised to take security very seriously. Wire promises to use end-to-end encryption for all of its voice calls and to encrypt all messages and media going to and from its data centres.

“Unlike a lot of small startups, we have made a significant investment and are thoughtful about security,” Christensen added. “We have a full-time security expert working with us, and we hire outside firms to audit who can see the data and under what circumstances.”

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The app, which will be free at launch, is scheduled for global release in the first quarter of 2015.