Popular and preeminent VoIP service Skype has wooed its fair share of people with an itch to ditch the landline and an Internet connection, especially those with international contacts. Today, the service is launching its latest update in the hopes of wooing even more customers and keeping the current ones happy. Skype 5.0 features a streamlined interface, Facebok integration, and video conferencing functionality.
First, Skype tackled the overall user experience of the software. The new Home page integrates a feed of mood messages from your contacts and yourself, and it offers a variety of tutorials to help you use the various features of the service, from making a video call to signing up for a subscription. The company also aimed to simplify the overall interface in order to make calling, messaging, screen sharing, and file transferring more intuitive and easier to navigate. In addition, the contact search screen now features images and mood messages and offers real-time results.
Skype is also offering an open beta on its new group video calling feature. According to company data, about 40 percent of all Skype-to-Skype minutes were used on video calling. The logical step was to provide a feature that allowed users to chat with more than just one other person. Anyone who downloads version 5 will have a chance to test out the new functionality for free, though it will be a paid extra down the line.
The video conferencing feature offers a few viewing options. One is the typical side-by-side screen with participants lined up in equal sizes. Then there's the more interesting dynamic view, which increases the size of the person doing most of the talking at any given moment. We got to check this out in a live demo and can see how it would be particularly useful for business calls.
The group video screen also prominently displays the relevant controls along the bottom, as well as a meter that measures call quality. Skype has added a call quality manager that gauges audio and video quality during calls. Automatic call recovery is another new feature that helps users quickly reconnect calls that are interrupted due to Internet connection problems.
Last but not least, Skype now has Facebook integrated seamlessly into the interface. A tab along the top of the screen will take you into your news feed, where you can update your status as well as start Skype calls with various contacts.