Skype boss: Mobile, video are our future

PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- At the D10 conference, Microsoft's Tony Bates, president of the Skype division, laid out two of the major growth opportunities and challenges for the communications service: mobile and video.

Announcing today that Skye now has 250 million connected users, up from 170 million the last time he reported, he said that over 50 percent of his traffic is now video communications.

Skype is "doubling down" on Windows 8 he said (also doubling down on secrecy), which Bates says is excellent for Skype because of its focus on people. "Windows 8 really represents … Read more

Skype upgrades interface, adds touch-screen features

A popular choice for VoIP users and those who make international and video calls, Skype (free for iPhone or iPad) received a few improvements that tweak the interface and give you more control over your video calls.

The overall interface has been slightly tweaked to look a bit smoother with a new header and buttons that are more aesthetically pleasing and better match the colors of the rest of the interface. The contact view now shows more contacts on screen, with smaller icons that don't take up as much space as they did in previous versions.

The most noticeable new enhancement is the ability to touch and drag your video preview (the picture in picture view where you can see yourself during a video call) so you can move it anywhere on the screen during a call.… Read more

Skype lands on PlayStation Vita

Skype for PlayStation Vita essentially works just like any other smartphone version of the software, providing a comprehensive set of features, free Skype-to-Skype voice, and high-quality video calls. Also, gabbers can choose between the rear and front-facing Vita cameras during video communication. The aesthetics of the Skype client seem tailored to blend in with the overall tone of the Vita user interface, which I consider a nice touch. … Read more

Get an Ooma Telo home phone system for $109.99

This is an update of a deal I posted last year.

I haven't used a landline for as long as I can remember. It's probably been five or six years since I switched to voice-over-IP service, and although there have been bumps along the way (anyone remember SunRocket?), I can't complain about the thousands (!) of dollars I've saved.

If you're ready to do likewise, I highly recommend the Ooma Telo. This sexy black box plugs into your router and provides unlimited local- and long-distance calling.

It normally sells for $199.99, but for a limited … Read more

NetTalk makes it easy to dump your landline but keep your phone number

How many phones does a person need, anyway?

Chances are you're paying more for telephone service than you need to. If you've been tempted to drop your landline but hesitated because you didn't want to lose your old phone number, get ready to save some dough.

NetTalk is one of a handful of VoIP services that port your existing number to an inexpensive Internet-phone account. Visit the NetTalk porting page to determine whether your current number is portable. If it is, you can submit a Number Porting Authorization when you complete your order or afterward by signing … Read more

FCC requires VoIP providers to report service outages

The Federal Communications Commission has decided to require all interconnected VoIP service providers to report network outages in much the way landline and cell phone service providers must follow.

The goal of today's ruling is to build a more reliable 911 emergency call-in system and to make all of the U.S. communication infrastructure readily available in times of crisis.

"We are helping ensure that consumers will have access to reliable phone service, particularly when calling 911, whether they are using a traditional telephone or one that operates by interconnected VoIP service," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said … Read more

Google Voice gets the Ice Cream Sandwich treatment

Earlier today, the Google Voice app for Android was quietly updated, moving it to version

While the minuscule version number may suggest otherwise, this newest iteration is significant, as it shows off a completely redesigned user interface and a shiny new app icon. Both are marked by the clean lines and cyan accents of the newest Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich.

The most notable feature added to Google Voice is Click-to-Call, located in the top-right corner of the tablet version of the app. Click-to-Call summons a small pop-up window that, as you can imagine, makes … Read more

Skype desktop app now makes Facebook video calls

Skype deepened its partnership with Facebook today by adding Facebook video calling to both its Mac and Windows applications.

With the just-announced Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac and Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows, you can initiate a Facebook video call without having to open up your browser and log in to the social-networking site. Just connect your Facebook account to Skype, select a Facebook friend, and hit the Skype video call button. Your friend picks up the call directly from within Facebook. While the feature isn't exactly a game-changer, we do think it's superconvenient. Since you … Read more

Introducing AT&T Call International for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone

The newly released AT&T Call International for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone might be an awesome VoIP app for making calls overseas. Note the word "might."

According to AT&T, the Call International app lets you use a Wi-Fi connection to place international phone calls from their supported AT&T phones, to anywhere and from anywhere in the world--for a fee, of course. Just sign up for a Call International account, download the app from the provided link, and make your calls. Your credit card will be billed on a monthly basis, and you'll … Read more

Swap your landline for Google Voice with an OBi

Google Voice has been the in-crowd's way to make and receive calls for a while now, but for the past few weeks I've been doing something with even more hipster cred.

I've hooked my Google Voice account up to an old-school landline handset that even my grandmother couldn't tell apart from Ma Bell, and I did away with the need to involve a PC or pesky things like phone bills in the whole process. Smells like freedom to me.

If you detect another VoIP product afoot here, you're right on the money. I've been testing the OBi100 and OBi110 for quite a while now.

The idea is actually pretty simple and will be familiar to many Skype or Vonage fans who use similar products. Basically, OBi makes small converter boxes that plug directly into your broadband router on one end, and a traditional landline phone on the other. OBi has its own voice over Internet Protocol service, OBiTalk, to connect to other OBi users for free, but the real selling point is using the box as a bridge to Google Voice and a handful of other services.… Read more