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Skype 5.0 Offers Facebook Integration, Group Video Calling

October 14, 2010

Following several months of beta testing, Skype today unveiled its latest Windows-based free communications software, Skype 5.0.

While the updated version features a number of enhancements, users will probably be most interested in the video calling software's new social media functionality. Skype developers have integrated Facebook's Phonebook and News Feed directly into the interface, allowing users to contact their network of friends through video calling and texting.

The integration also enables users to see their Facebook News Feed in Skype, link their status updates to Skype mood messages as well as comment and "like" friends' updates and wall posts straight from the interface.

In addition to its new social media capabilities, Skype 5.0 offers users improved call quality and a totally revamped interface that includes tutorials on how to take advantage of the product's features.

"We've revitalized the look and feel, making voice and video calling, instant messaging, screen sharing, and file sharing intuitive and easy to navigate," Rick Osterloh, head of consumer product management at Skype, noted in a recent blog post. "And you can now bring even more of your family and friends together with the new group video calling feature available in open beta."

This new offering allows users to video chat with multiple people on the same screen. While group calling functionality is currently being offered on a free trial basis, consumers will eventually need to purchase it once the product is out of beta.

Skype also announced that it has refined its new version to make the calling experience smoother for users. The latest edition is neater, more stable and equipped with automatic call recovery, which quickly reconnects people if they experience network problems.

Unfortunately for Mac users, the updated version is only available for Windows, however, Skype officials said they are working on that issue.

"You may have noticed that we've just launched a new version of Skype for Windows, and I wanted to reassure you that our previous statement still stands: We're working hard to deliver group video calling to the Mac as quickly as possible," said Peter Parkes, Skype's blogger-in-chief. "But that's not all -- we intend to give our app for Mac OS X a complete overhaul, both in terms of the way it looks, and in terms of functionality. Watch this space."

Beecher Tuttle is a Web Editor for unified communications. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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