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Posts tagged with "skype"

Microsoft Releases Cross-Platform Skype Update and Announces Call Recording and Other Features

Microsoft has released version 8 of Skype for the desktop, which features a redesign inspired by the app’s mobile clients. The update, which is available on Mac, Windows, and Linux, replaces version 7, which will no longer work after September 1, 2018.

The update includes 1080p video calls with screen sharing for up to 24 participants. Twitter-style ‘@mentions’ have been added too. Mentioning someone by name preceded by the ‘@‘ symbol sends them a notification. Microsoft has also added a media gallery. Clicking on ‘Gallery’ in a conversation opens a panel on the right side of the Skype window with links, files, and other media that has been shared. Finally, users can share files, photos, and videos of up to 300 MB by dragging them into a conversation.

Microsoft also updated Skype’s iOS apps. The update to the iPad version of Skype is noteworthy because it’s been about a year since it was last updated, and it now includes features that are in line with the more frequently updated iPhone version.

Microsoft says it has other features planned for later this summer too. Skype will add read receipts that display avatars beneath the most recent message a user has read, so you can see at a glance where each participant in a conversation is. End-to-end encrypted audio calls and text messaging with file attachments based on the Signal protocol is coming later too.

Perhaps the most significant new feature that Skype will introduce is cloud-based call recording that works with audio and video calls. When a recording is begun, each participant will be notified that the call is being recorded. This should be an excellent addition for anyone who has relied on third-party solutions or QuickTime to record Skype calls.

Also, starting conversations should become simpler. Users will be able to invite new users to join Skype by sharing a link from their profile. In addition, shareable links to group chats will make it easier to add new members to a group.

I’ve never been a fan of Skype’s Mac app. Unifying the app across different platforms undoubtedly simplifies Microsoft’s development process and will be useful to anyone who uses Skype on multiple OSes. The unification comes at a cost though. Skype 8 is a cross-platform Electron app based on Chrome OS, which means non-standard windows and controls on the Mac. Apps like Skype are why I’m looking forward to UIKit coming to the Mac. If it isn’t worth the effort to Microsoft to build a native AppKit version of Skype, a UIKit version on the Mac that is based on Skype for iOS should at least be more familiar to users.

Microsoft Aligns Features of Skype’s Desktop and Mobile Apps

Over the summer, Microsoft introduced a new Skype app for iOS with a multitude of new features that seemed designed to maintain its relevance in a social media-dominated world. At the time, Microsoft also introduced a preview version of the Skype desktop app that incorporated some of the same features. Today, Microsoft announced that the desktop app has exited preview mode and is being rolled out across several platforms.

The new Skype desktop app includes a lot of new features, but one of the most fundamental that should be welcome to all users is the unification of messaging across platforms. That means messages you receive through Skype will be available whether you’re using the app on a Mac, iOS, Windows, an Xbox, or another device.

In addition, Skype now includes cloud-based file sharing of up to 300 MB of data, customizable themes, and different ways to organize your chat list. Notifications have also been centralized with reactions to your messages, @mentions in group chats, and instances where you have been quoted available in one place. To jump to the spot in the conversation where the notification appears, just click on it. There’s a chat media gallery where you can access all photos, links, files, and other items sent to you too.

Microsoft has added many other bells and whistles. Chat conversations can take advantage of add-ons like event scheduling, sending money to friends and family, searching for GIFs, and more. Video calls and text-based messages can include reactions to let others know your mood, status updates, Twitter-style @mentions, and bots from third parties too. If there was any doubt that Microsoft wants to expand beyond simple voice and video calling, the latest updates to Skype’s apps should put that to rest.

The new version of Skype has begun rolling out to users. If you don’t want to wait for the update to show up, you can manually download it from now.

Skype Integrates with SiriKit and Contacts

iOS 10 introduced seven domains that third-party developers can use to hook into Siri. One of those domains lets VoIP providers like Skype use Siri. Apple also debuted CallKit with iOS 10, which lets VoIP providers tie into the Lock screen of the iPhone in the same way the built-in Phone app does.

Today, Microsoft updated Skype for iPad (and presumably an iPhone update, which is a separate app, will be coming soon) to take advantage of both new iOS 10 APIs. Now you make Skype calls with a variety of spoken commands via Siri like ‘Call Federico with Skype’ or ‘Make a Skype call to Federico.’ The first time you try it, you will be prompted to go to Settings to turn on Siri integration, which is off by default.

Skype’s access to the Lock screen means that calls you receive will show up on, and can be answered from, the Lock screen and the full-screen interface that appears everywhere else in the iOS UI when a call comes in, just like a standard phone call. Previously, all Skype could do was send a notification that a call recipient could tap to answer. Now when a call comes in, the only difference from a standard phone call interface is that the alert on the Lock screen indicates under the caller’s name that the call is using Skype.

The Skype update also works closely with the Apple’s Contacts app. If you grant permission to Skype to use your contacts, you can tap and hold the call icon on a contact card to get a popup that will include the option to initiate a call via Skype. Skype will also take any Skype contact data that it finds in the Contacts app and add it to its own contact list.

Outlook for iOS Gets Skype Integration

Clever addition to Outlook for iOS just rolled out by Microsoft:

Innovation is happening in the calendar this week with our latest Skype integration. Make any meeting a Skype call simply by flicking a switch, then access the call when you need to with just a tap. Now when you say “I’m joining the call now”, you’ll actually mean it. To give it a try, simply turn on the “Skype Meeting” switch when creating or editing an event.

The integration generates a link to a Skype call that can be launched from the calendar event in Outlook. This works best for shared calendar events, so every participant can easily join the call and start talking.

I’m a big fan of Outlook for iOS, and this is exactly what Microsoft should be doing – leveraging their services to go beyond the traditional features of email and calendar. I like what they’ve been doing with Outlook.


Skype for iPad Updated for iOS 9

The Skype app for iPad has been updated today with support for iOS 9. Version 6.3 now supports Slide Over and Split View to have Skype chats next to other apps, quick text replies from notifications, and Spotlight search for usernames. Another update to Skype for iPad was released a while back bringing a redesigned UI for managing conversations, and I feel like the entire app has gotten considerably better over the past several months.

While I won’t be able to stop using my Mac to record podcasts in the near future, I want to believe that my dream of having a full podcasting setup on iOS isn’t so absurd anymore. Skype in Split View alongside Safari is a first step, but the road ahead is long (on my requirements list: Split View for Google Docs; the ability to plug a Rode microphone into my iPad; a way to record local audio during a Skype call).


Skype Launches Video Messaging

Today, Skype has officially introduced a new feature called Video Messaging, which allows users to send video files to other contacts. Video Messaging, rolling out today to every platform (including iOS and OS X),  is aimed at letting users “record and share a personal video message, even when your friends and loved ones are not available”. Video Messaging is free for all Skype users.

Skype Video Messaging adds another great way to keep in touch with friends and family during life’s most meaningful moments. Send a video message to your friends and family today—it’s easy. You can capture a fleeting memory, create a heartfelt reminder or simply tell a friend or family member “wish you were here” even when they aren’t online.

Skype videos can be up to three minutes long, and they can be recorded directly from Skype’s apps. In a promotional video, Skype shows how users can record and re-record videos on the iPhone, previewing them before sending them to someone. Videos will be played inline on Skype for desktop computers, and users can also reply to a video message.

Updates to Skype for iOS and OS X will be released today to support video messaging. In the meantime, Skype has posted an official announcement and FAQ here.


Skype 5.8 for Mac Adds Mountain Lion Support, New Contact List

Out today, Skype 5.8 for Mac brings a series of changes meant to make the app ready for Apple’s upcoming Mountain Lion, simplify the interface, and improve support for video calls coming from mobile devices. Whereas Skype 5.6, released in March, added support for Lion’s full-screen mode, version 5.8 gets the app ready for Apple’s next major iteration of OS X so you won’t have to “worry about compatibility”. Unfortunately, after an initial test, Skype 5.8 crashed while I was browsing the integrated Facebook feed. The app works on the latest Mountain Lion developer preview, but it seems like Skype will still need to finely tune the software to avoid unexpected quit.

Perhaps more importantly for Mac users, the latest Skype brings back the old Skype’s simplified floating contact list that disappeared after the much criticized transition to version 5.0. Quite ironically, a simplified contact list wasn’t amongst the most shared ideas Skype asked its user base to submit in a contest to propose design ideas; however, the company clearly listened to feedback, and decided to bring back the Contacts Monitor (available from the Window menu through a CMD+3 shortcut) to offer more streamlined access to contacts and groups.

The Contacts Monitor is a resizable floating window listing groups in a toolbar, and contacts with status indicators below them. It provides filters for All, Skype, Facebook, and Address Book contacts, and it allows you to start new chats either via double-click or right-click. The Contacts Monitor is certainly more intuitive and easier to navigate than Skype’s integrated Contacts interface for Skype and Facebook friends. It’s a welcome addition.

In version 5.8, Skype also added better support for video calling from mobile devices. In 5.8, video calls in portrait or landscape mode are automatically adjusted to the right orientation when displayed on a desktop computer. Last, according to Skype, the possibility to open chats in separate windows is “coming soon”.

Skype 5.8 is available as a free download here. You can read the company’s official blog post here.

Skype 5.6 For Mac Released with Automatic Updates, Lion Full-Screen, New Group Video Calling UI

Earlier today, Skype updated its Mac client with a series of new features, bringing the app to version 5.6 up from the 5.5 beta released in January. Among the most notable improvements, full-screen support for OS X Lion will allow Skype users to eliminate distractions and focus on the chat or call at hand by putting the app in a dedicated workspace on 10.7. Speaking of calls, group video calling received a fresh coat of paint with an improved user interface design that now allows for easy switching between dynamic and non-dynamic modes – when dynamic mode is on, the person who is speaking is moved automatically to the top of the window, similarly to how Hangouts work on Google+.

Whilst still featuring the much criticized window design that was introduced with version 5.0 last year, Skype is making some subtle improvements to the app. For instance, messages can be removed from conversations now, and entire conversations can be deleted from the sidebar (and the history). The first-run experience has also been redesigned, now including a handy tutorial to show what’s new in the latest version of Skype, and guide users though some basic steps such as making a call. Equally important it’s the new Automatic Updates function, which will make sure Skype is running the latest version available and will relaunch the app every once in a while if an update has been detected and downloaded in the background. This option can be disabled in the Preferences.

Skype 5.6 is a recommended update for all Skype for Mac users (it also contains bug fixes), and it can be downloaded here.