Skype Integrates Facebook, Group Video Calling
Windows app update brings the social network directly into the VoIP software; Mac version to follow.
With the new Skype for Windows, users can keep up-to-date and interact with their Facebook News Feed, including posting status updates, commenting, and liking, directly from Skype. Via the Facebook Phonebook in Skype, users can call and SMS text message their Facebook friends directly on their mobile phones and landlines with a few clicks. If Facebook friends also are Skype contacts, users then can make a free Skype-to-Skype call.
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"We've integrated the Facebook News Feed and Phonebook into Skype, making it easier to stay connected with the people and communities you care about. We've revitalized the look and feel, making voice and video calling, instant messaging, screen sharing, and file sharing intuitive and easy to navigate," said Rick Osterloh, head of consumer product management at Skype, in a company blog. "And you can now bring even more of your family and friends together with the new group video calling feature available in open beta."
Individuals who download the latest version of Skype also will receive a free trial of group video calling, currently in beta, which enables them to test-drive video calling with more than two people. The capability's dynamic view allows users to follow along on a conversation by moving the focus to the person who is talking during the phone call. During the first six months of 2010, video calling represented about 40% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes, according to the company.
In addition to the new Facebook features, Skype for Windows includes automatic call recovery, designed to help users quickly reconnect calls disconnected due to Internet connection problems. In addition, the software includes a call quality manager that gauges audio and video quality during conversations, and gives guidance on problem resolution and how to improve the call experience, according to Skype.
Skype has also simplified the user interface, and made it easier to find existing contacts using pictures and avatars displayed next to individuals' names. The developer also added real-time search capabilities.
In an average day, Skype users spend 520 million minutes talking to people on Skype, whether via free Skype-to-Skype calls or calling any phone at low cost, the company said.
Skype Home, a new feature, is the dashboard for users' experiences, and gives a feed of contacts' mood experiences. The dashboard also offers tutorials on a range of subjects, such as how to make a video call and how to sign up for a subscription.
Although it did not reveal any specifics, Skype assured Macintosh users that the company is working on a new version for the Apple operating system.
"You may have noticed that we've just launched a new version of Skype for Windows, and I wanted to reassure you that our previous statement still stands: We're working hard to deliver group video calling to the Mac as quickly as possible," said Peter Parkes, Skype's blogger-in-chief. "But that's not all -- we intend to give our app for Mac OS X a complete overhaul, both in terms of the way it looks, and in terms of functionality. Watch this space."
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