Tag Archives | Skype

Video Calling Hits Skype for iPhone

Well, looky here–the iPhone version of Skype we wanted all along is finally here: one that does video calls. It works on the iPhone 4, current iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS, and iPad (although you really want the front-facing camera which the 3GS and iPad lack) and permits calls over both 3G and Wi-Fi. And judging from my very brief time with it so far, the quality seems quite good.

Apple’s own FaceTime set the standard for simple video calling from a phone, and other options such as Tango are already thriving. but if you’re a Skype user calling another Skype user, the new iPhone app couldn’t be much simpler–and you can make calls to Windows users, something that’s still not possible with FaceTime. (You can’t, however, make video calls to Android users–but you gotta think that a video-capable version for Android will come along before too long.)

If you give the new app a try, let us know what you think. Me, I think I’ll use it calling my three-year-old nephew and two-year-0ld niece–neither of who own an iPhone 4, oddly enough…


Skype Outage Explained

Skype’s CIO has blogged a detailed explanation of why the service was down for 24 hours last week. Like the even longer Skype outage of 2007, this one was an interesting reminder that a service that relies on peer-to-peer technologies rather than centralized servers can still be crippled if large quantities of those peers run into trouble all at once.

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Skype Update

Skype may indeed be “returning to normal,” but it’s not happening particularly quickly.


Skype Outage Continues

Skype says that it’s “returning to normal” after today’s major outage. From what we can tell from here, th0ugh, the service is still feeling sickly.


Tango, the Little Video Calling App That Could

Have you noticed?  Facebook, the world’s favorite social networking tool, has been jockeying for position lately. So have Skype and Twitter. These giants lost their lead after an unprecedented run-up from newcomer Tango, a new free mobile-to-mobile video calling service. Hours after launching on September 30, Tango became the #1 free social networking app—knocking off Twitter, Skype and Facebook in the App Store—in nine countries including the United States, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan, Spain and South Korea. And, just yesterday, Tango announced its 1 millionth download from the App Store and Android Marketplace. (At the moment, it’s slipped to the #2 spot, after Facebook.)

Without any cheerleading by Apple or any existing brand awareness or installed user base to speak of, Tango’s explosive rise is a feat of virality that every app developer dreams of. “It’s unheard of,” says Patrick Mork of GetJar, the world’s largest independent app store. Clearly, there is pent-up demand for free, two-way video calls that work reliably across platforms (Android and iOS) over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi.  Yahoo is moving in fast, too, with its newest version of Yahoo Messenger, announced Monday, which does video chats on iOs devices over 3G and Wi-Fi and allows users to place video calls to and from desktops: it’s already #4 in the App Store’s “Top Free” social networking category, just behind Tango (#2) and Skype (#3).

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It's Skype vs. Fring in VoIP War of the Words

Looks like Fring made too many waves by updating its iPhone app to support two-way video chat. After a short time when iPhone 4 owners could use Fring to video chat with desktop PCs using Skype, Fring pulled all Skype support, at first temporarily, but now for good.

Both sides of this relationship gone sour tell different stories. Fring says it was blocked by Skype in an “anti-competitive ambush.” Skype says that’s not true, but claims Fring violated terms of use for its API, and was damaging the Skype brand by temporarily pulling support. No matter who’s telling the truth, iPhone 4 owners can’t make video calls to PCs anymore.

As long as Skype and Fring are slinging mud at each other, let’s look at some other iPhone-to-PC video calling scenarios that would render this break-up obsolete:

It’s possible that other platforms will adopt Apple’s Facetime, which is an open standard. Facetime desktop software seems like a no-brainer, but it needs to allow PC-to-PC calling or it’ll never get the widespread adoption Skype currently enjoys.

Google Talk is in the opposite position. It’s all over PCs through an optional plug-in for Gmail, iGoogle and Orkut, but lacks two-way video support on phones. Still, adding support could cause more friction with Apple and with Sprint, which uses Qik for video chat on the HTC Evo 4G.

Skype could theoretically support video chat for iPhone 4 some day, but the company has dragged its feet on several iPhone features, including 3G calling, which finally arrived in May, and iOS4 multitasking, which is still missing. The company gave Gizmodo a murky answer on video calling for mobile phones, which read, in part, “We’re betting big on video, and we intend to set the bar on mobile video calling.” Whatever that means.

Then there’s Fring. Like Facetime, Fring desperately needs a desktop application, I’d say even more so than Facetime because the software already supports Android and Symbian video calling as well. The Skype fiasco proves that Fring can’t lean too heavily on third-parties, so if Fring really wants the spotlight — and to swing at Skype — it needs to move onto the one platform Skype has dominated, the PC.


Skype on Verizon: Coming This Thursday

Last month, Verizon and Verizon Wireless announced that they were working together to bring a mobile version of Skype to users of BlackBerry and Android handsets on the Verizon network. Today at the CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas, they’re divulging the details, including the precise timeframe: Skype Mobile will begin to  be available for download this Thursday at 3am ET.

Russ Shaw, general manager for mobile at Skype, told me that the version of Skype that BlackBerry- and Android-toting Verizon customers will get has been optimized for the Verizon network and the devices in question. For instance, it runs in the background in always-on mode, but won’t drain the battery too quickly, he said.

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Today’s Tech, Predicted in 1960 by a Bad Cartoon

Here’s a 1960 Paramount cartoon about future tech that predicts the Roomba and Skype–and therefore reminds me of the eerily accurate/hilariously off-base 1940s whiskey-ad predictions I discovered a couple of months back.

(Via Jerry Beck at Cartoon Brew)