Skype is a popular, easy to use and reliable VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) program, that allows you call and talk to other Skype users, video chat and more for free over the internet.
With Skype you can not only have voice chats on your computer – just like telephone, only for free – but also make real phone calls at much lower rates, using the so called SkypeOut service and paying with Skype credit. Besides voice chats, Skype also includes the standard IM functionalities (written conversations, emoticons, user avatars and so on) and also lets you have group video conferences.
These video calls are precisely the main focus on Skype’s latest version. The program’s interface has been completely redesigned with video conferences on mind. This means it’s been made wider so that video fits in perfectly with your written chat, your contact list and a toolbar to manage conversation. The new interface is transformed when you make a call, getting rid of all the clutter, so you just see the video images, and controls. Group video is still being tested in this version, and it’s pretty cool.
The sound quality during our testing was perfect: loud and clear. Video sometimes appeared a bit pixelated, but nothing we couldn’t really deal with. There was also one nice detail, and that’s the ability to see your own video image built-in on your contact’s video, and the option to take a snapshot of your own image.
The other major development is Facebook integration. This is a pretty big thing, as not only does it give you your news feed in the app – anyone can do that – but adds call and sms buttons to any of your friends who share their contact numbers. If you’ve paid for Skype minutes, you can call your Facebook friends, and if they’re also signed in to Skype you can call them for free. One of the best new features is the automatic call recovery – drop a call and it’s put in pause. Restarting it is now really easy.