On the heels of Google unleashing Google Voice to the Gmail masses, it looks like Skype is ready to up the ante by announcing that it will be experimenting with a new video chat feature that will please Skypepoholics everywhere.
Today weâ€™ve released an update to Skype for Windows. The second beta of Skype 5.0 brings a number of changes both outside and in â€“ most importantly, you can now make group video calls with up to 10 people. It also welcomes in a fresh new look, as well as increased stability and better quality when making group video calls. (Skype Business Blog)
Note: Emphasis mine.
Although one can make a video call via Google Chat (which will probably be incorporated within Google Voice in the future), you can currently only chat with one person at a time.
While Skype’s group video chat feature isn’t free (there is a trial period before you have to pay), this feature will probably appeal to businesses and families who have employees or relatives spread all over the globe, respectively.
While group video chats will not appeal to everyone, it should help the nimble company maintain its lead against the Google Goliath (the latter who seems intent on declaring war against everyone).
In their quest to challenge Skype for the VoIP crown, the search engine giant is rolling out Google Voice to Gmail lovers (provided they live within a few countries).
Starting today, you can call any phone right from Gmail.
Calls to the U.S. and Canada will beÂ freeÂ for at least the rest of the year and calls to other countries will be billed at our veryÂ low rates. We worked hard to make these rates really cheap (seecomparison table) with calls to the U.K., France, Germany, China, Japanâ€”and many more countriesâ€”for as little as $0.02 per minute.
Dialing a phone number works just like a normal phone. Just click â€œCall phoneâ€ at the top of your chat list and dial a number or enter a contactâ€™s name. (Official Gmail Blog)
If you do not see the feature yet in your account, you can either wait 72 hours or activate it early by calling a number within your Gmail account (your results may vary).
Thus far, Google seems to be aiming at reducing Skype’s dominance in the world of VoIP by using its deep pockets to draw away Skypers (who have mocked Google’s attempts in the past).
Unfortunately for Google Voice, Skype current advantage lies with its video calling feature, not to mention the fact that the latter is available upon the iPhone thanks to iRage from Steve Jobs.
Skype and Nokia’s partnership has been going for quite some time now. In fact, their plans of integrating Skype to Nokia devices has been discussed as early as February last year. Although Nokia devices were able to get a default Skype client it is only now that it is finally made available for majority of Nokia’s smartphones – specifically those running on Symbian ^1.
Skype for Symbian will let you to use Skype even while on the move, either through WiFi, GPRS, EDGE or 3G. Â Skype for Symbian is now available for download at the Nokia Ovi Store and you can install it on your smartphone if it belongs to the following long list of Nokia devices that support it:
Nokia N97, Nokia N97 mini, Nokia X6, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and Nokia 5530 and the following non-touch devices: Nokia E72, Nokia E71, Nokia E90, Nokia E63, Nokia E66, Nokia E51, Nokia N96, Nokia N95, Nokia N95 8Gb, Nokia N85, Nokia N82, Nokia N81, Nokia N81 8 Gb, Nokia N79, Nokia N78, Nokia 6220 classic, Nokia 6210 Navigator, Nokia 5320.
If your current Nokia phone is any of those devices listed, then you can enjoy the following features of Skype on your device:
Make free Skype-to-Skype calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world
Save money on calls and texts (SMS) to phones abroad.
Send and receive instant messages to and from individuals or groups
Share pictures, videos and other files.
Receive calls to their existing online number
See when Skype contacts are online and available to call or IM
Easily import names and numbers from the phoneâ€™s address book
Of course before you go on a Skype holiday, make sure that you are subscribe to an unlimited data plan, since even though Skype-to-Skype call is free, you are still using up air time of your mobile carriers.
You may download Skype for Symbian by following this link.
Samsung has just unveiled their latest HDTV line-up, the LED 7000 and LED 8000 series. Wait, before you stop and say that these are just another one-of-them Samsung HDTVs, well think again because they are actually not just your ordinary HDTVs. Â These HDTVs are quite unique because of the fact that they come embedded with Skype software.
Yes, folks this simply means that you can now have the comfort of making video and voice calls through these Samsung HDTVs. Do you have any idea how crisp and clear the person you are Skype-ing with would be? Well, the idea is pretty cool for me and I would love to get one of these new Samsung HDTVs. Although we may all have to wait for quite some time since Samsung is launching the new TVs worldwide sometime before the second hald of 2010.
Going back to the two Samsung LED 7000 and 8000 series TVs. These two products will come with Samsung’s free InternetTV service as well which will let you access selected online content. Â And you also need to buy the FreeTalk Â TV Camera to enable the high quality video calls. Â Voice calls on the other hand will be handled by Skype’s SILK audio codec which is capable of producing super-wideband audio quality.
If you don’t have a Skype account yet, you can create one using the TV’s remote control via the TV’s simple Skype interface. Of course, the bottomline is that voice calls and video calls will be free provide that you are communicating with another Skype user.
Cool? Yes, of course!. So, I’ll watch out for those Samsung LED HDTVs if I were you.
Verizon Wireless and Skype have just announced their partnership that will give U.S. customers more value for their bucks if they are existing Verizon data subscribers. While for those who are still not on Verizon, this could probably be a good come on get a Verizon mobile data plan.
The new service will bring Skype to Verizon Wireless phones sometime in March. With this new service, you will be able to call around the globe via VoIP through, while your friends can communicate with you via the same route as well. The new exclusive and easy-to-use Skype mobile service will be initially available on several Verizon Wireless phones including BlackBerry Storm 9530, Storm 2 9550, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition and Tour 9630. It will also be supported by Droid, Droid Eris and Motorola Devour.
Specifically, the service will let you:
make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls to any Skype user around the globe on Americaâ€™s most reliable wireless network;
call international phone numbers at competitive Skype Out calling rates;
send and receive instant messages to other Skype users; and
remain always connected with the ability to see friendsâ€™ online presence.
So basically, this new Skype service is practically extending your data calling plans plus the fact that you can call anyone through Skype, anytime, anywhere.
Verizon Wireless will start offering Skype through 3G service sometime in March. You can sign up for more informationÂ here.
ViVo, a video communication solutions provider for enterprise and Skype has just teamed up to bring real-time video communication and collaboration a reality. To make this possible, a new ViVu plug-in for Skype, called VuRoom was launched by Vivo.
VuRoom is built on the Skype platform and provides users witn instant multi-user video conferencing. This is designed to help remote business users to collaborate in real-time in the comforts of their respective offices. Hence allowing business entities to save valuable time and money.
So, how does VuRoom works? It’s quite simple actually. To enable VuRoom’s multi-user video conferencing expeirence, the meeting host needs to download and install the VuRoom plug-in. The host will then need to select the contacts they want to communicate/collaborate with and then initiate a “call group” command. Once the call confirmation pops up the session will commence.
What’s good about VuRoom is that other participants are not required to have the ViVo plug-in installed on their machine. Any participant can join the video conference by simply clicking on a specific URL for the video conference session. What’s more, whoever is presenting during the video conference will have the right to share their interface with other users.
VuRoom integrates well with most streaming video and conference solutions. It is hosted in the cloud and can be considered as iVaaS or interactive Video-as-a-Service. VuRoom can be used for both small web conferences to a bigger corporate training session.
If you’re interested with this service, VuRoom is currently available for both Windows and Mac users. VuRoom cost $9.95/month. You may register for a 30-day free trial if you can’t decide immediately whether to pay for VuRoom or not.
Here’s an interesting data just released by TeleGeography showing Skype getting 50% increase in its share of international calling minutes in 2009 from data of 2008. Skype managed to post a 12% market share in international calling minutes in 2009 from 2008′s 8%.
This interesting because for awhile I thought Skype has already lost its luster. With so many mobile apps that enables you to do free international calling via VOIP such as Fring and other Skype rivals including iPhone applications.
So it is but laudable that according to the Telegeography report Skype was able to accelerate Skype-to-Skype international calling minutes at the rate of almost 100%.
Over at the Skype Journal, Skype’s Sten Tamkivi gave a comprehensively interesting recount of how Skype has managed to achieve its current position right now after being a startup in 2003. Indeed, despite the trials and travails that Skype have passed through, it’s amazing that it is still alive and going strong.
Are you still using Skype to communicate with business contacts located worldwide? Or have you used other free mobile VOIP applications? I’ve got Skype in my Mac, Desktop PC, netbook and even iPhone and yet I don’t really get to use Skype Â that much. I still prefer to communicate with business contacts through the old email system.
As if awakening from a deep slumber, Skype suddenly comes back to life and announced just in time for CES 2010 their latest offering - 720p HD video calls on Windows PC as well as Skype enabled-HDTVs. Â Oh wait, are you still using Skype? If yes, then read to find out what these announcements are all about. If you’ve stopped using Skype a long time ago, this might be the right time to start using it again.
New Skype HD Video Calling
Although not really a full 1080p, Skype’s new 720p HD-quality video calling feature at 1280×720 resolution and up to 30 fps is enough to give you smoother and richer video calls. Â To use this feature, you need a new HD webcam, PC with at least 1.8GHz dual-core processor, high-speed broadband connection and of course Skype 4.2 Beta for Windows. In case you’re wondering what HD webcams to get, be sure to check out announcement from faceVision and InStore Solution during the CES 2010. These two manufacturers are said to be coming out with new HD webcams that will work fine with Skype. These webcams will set you back for around $99 to $140.
Skype Video Calls on HDTVs
Now this one made me feel bad since I just bought a 32-inch Samsung HDTV. I should have waited for LG and Panasonic’s new HDTV models that will have an embedded Skype Software. Anyway, Skype’s video calling on HDTV will let you do the following:
Free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls
Calls to landline or mobile phones at Skype’s low rates
Receive inbound calls via user’s online Skype number
Voice conference calls with up to 24 other parties
Support for 720p HD video calls
Are we all excited about this now? I do hope so that this new features will revive the sparkle that Skype once had.
Even the best hardware features need support from services with decent traction. Otherwise, they just become useless decorations. Some Nokia smartphones come with a front-facing camera, supposedly for video chat. Thanks to inconsistent network support for videocalls, nobody actually uses it. That may change soon, as mobile Skype client Fring releases video support for Nokia 5800, N97, N95 and N82 handsets. More models coming soon.
After watching all the drama surrounding Skype over the last few days, I can only conclude that Meg Whitman, the CEO of eBay duing its 2005 acquisition of Skype, was a moron. At the very least, she severely undervalued the role of technology in the technology business. More →