It’s been one of my most long lived frustrations with Skype. Sure I have apps that run on phones, tablets, and PC’s, but sometimes I just want to check a message from a browser. It never made much sense to me that when I would get an email alerting me to a voicemail, I couldn’t just check that voicemail from the browser I just got the email in.
Better late than never, Skype is now delivering their Skype for Web BETA plugin for everyone. Installing a little piece of software in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari will now give you a pretty complete Skype experience.
In early use it’s been a nice way to balance notifications and alerts without having to keep the Skype client running constantly in the background on my PC. We still don’t quite have the dream of just being able to log into Skype on the web from any browser to check our messages like Google Voice, but this is a nice step in the right direction.
Skype set the standard for one on one video calling, but services like Facetime on the Mac and Hangouts through Google quickly ran with group video chat for free.
Skype offered a “Pro” version where you could conference call, but that was an additional cost over the free service. Announced today on the Skype blog, video group calls will now be coming to all for free. Initially available on the Mac, PC, and XBox One, free group calling will eventually make its way to all other platforms as well.
The one area Skype will still be behind is in video broadcast. Google scored a hit with Hangouts on Air, allowing users to broadcast publicly live, and automatically uploading that vid to Youtube. For folks coordinating podcasts, Skype could do well to offer some kind of video capture service to compete.
Unveiled two days ago, Skype took the wraps off of their new broadcast-grade service dubbed “Skype TX”. Built on their acquisition of Cat and Mouse technology, they’ve developed a hardware and software combo which should deliver high quality video calling globally. Adding to a suite of tools already available to help producers integrate video content into their programs, Skype TX should be available later this year.
I love movies. I used to host a movie review show. My pals at Skype got in touch with me to see if I would like to attend the Hollywood premiere of Thor: The Dark World, and I of course said “Hells Yes”. I had on the blast on the red carpet hanging out with Amy Dallen from Geek and Sundry, and I got some great candid photos of the film’s stars being interviewed for the event.
The film was a lot of fun (I liked it better than the first one), and I’d like to thank Skype for hooking up a great moment! Catch my shots in the slideshow below. Fair warning, Google embedding is broken, so it’ll take you to my G+ page in a new tab, but the slideshow will continue here on the blog.
Before I even get into this announcement, can I just say it’s starting to become a real bummer when companies release these new products at swanky events but don’t do a live stream. I digress.
At a swanky un-watchable event in NYC this morning the Redmond Surface team officially took the wraps off of the new Surface Pro 2. A substantial update to the progressive little Windows 8 tablet released in February of this year. This was a necessary release time table for Microsoft as the OG Surface came out right before a new generation of lower power processors from Intel.
The design and dimensions remain largely unchanged from the original. There weren’t many criticisms about the form factor or build quality. One of the few exterior updates is a change to the angle of the kickstand allowing for improved lap usability.
Republic Wireless is a scrappy alternative MVNO cell carrier. Offering insanely cheap plans starting at $5 a month, they’ve been a favorite around the budget conscious shoppers looking for smartphone service. The trick to keeping plans that cheap is Republic is a hybrid service. When out and about your phone uses Sprint’s network, but when you’re in range of WiFi your phone will use data to make calls like Skype or Vonage. I had the pleasure of reviewing their Moto Defy back in February.
Now the problem with Republic for many folks was the lack of devices. The software to enable hybrid calling has to be built into the ROM, so you can’t bring your own phone. Until now, the only phone they offered was the Defy, which was a fine Gingerbread device, but not the sexiest phone compared to other low cost carriers.
Well that’s going to change really soon. Republic Wireless has scored the Moto X, and they’re going to sell it for an incredible $299 off contract. From the Republic Wireless website:
The Moto X will retail at $299 (plus taxes and surcharges) from the Republic Wireless store. That’s right – we took the hot, new Moto X, added Republic’s great Hybrid service and priced it at $299 with no contract required. That’s a price that’s, like, impossible to match anywhere in the industry. How did we do it? The phone is $299 because we are footing the bill. Period. This is NOT a $299 phone. Take a quick look around the web and look at “no contract” pricing for the Moto X.
In the industry this is typically known as a subsidy, but we’ve added a twist. We are bringing down the cost without holding you to a contract. We’re doing this because we have trust in our members…and we have confidence in our product and service. Contracts are inherently built on a lack of trust…and a lack of confidence in your ability to bring your A game every.single.day. We believe in a better way…the way things should be.
That’s a pretty bold move on the part of such a small player, and I’m stoked to see companies like this look for ways to compete against larger carriers.
It’s been a long time coming. While Windows Phone is now the third place phone platform, these kinds of announcements still get us excited.
Now if you’re using a WP8 handset and Skype, updating the app will finally give you the ability to send video messages to your Skype contacts. Your own private video communications, free and unlimited messaging. So go get updating! And now instead of leaving me a voice mail you can shoot me a video. That’s way more interesting. Just remember to look into the camera and stop trying to make eye contact with yourself.
While I have you here on this post, I do have a gripe. If Microsoft owns Skype, why are Windows Phone users the last, DISTANT last place, to be getting this kind of functionality? If Redmond is going to drive the WP8 platform to any kind of success, and after buying Nokia I’m guessing they hope for some kind of success, this kind of neglect needs to stop.
Seriously. I hate myself for what I’m about to type here, but Microsoft, yeah, we need a little more brand synergy. Thanks.