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Skype 5.0 for Windows integrates Facebook, adds group video calls

There's a new version of Skype out with a couple of interesting features--one of which actually seems worth your time.

skype_facebook_logo.jpg

Skype 5.0 for Windows, released Thursday and documented in a blog post, addresses one user request by adding group video calling. This feature, debuted in test form back in May, lets up to five people see each other hold forth on camera.

For now, it's confined to this Windows release. (I'd report back on how it works, but I've yet to round up three people who have installed Skype 5.0 and are online at the same time.) But Skype says it's coming to its Mac software later this year; if this Luxembourg firm then builds in support for Apple's FaceTime video-conferencing, which Apple says it plans to make an open standard, things could get interesting.

Then there's Skype's other feature, the one that leads off the its blog post: Facebook integration. Sign into your Facebook account inside the program (select "Facebook updates" off its View menu), and your News Feed will appear in its window.

This worked in my test, but weirdly so--it shows some updates that haven't yet bubbled up to Facebook's regular interface.

But the key question about this feature is not "how well?" but "why?" I can see the benefit of being able to call Facebook contacts, but do we need Facebook updates welded into yet another program? Even if you keep Skype open all the time, how often do you check it? The whole point is that you don't have to. You can leave it in the background, and Skype will let you know if somebody's trying to reach you... you know, the way a phone works.

This mainly reminds me of OnStar's experiments in adding Facebook to its in-car communications systems: It looks neat, but who needs this?

If you've installed Skype 5.0 on a Windows machine, I'd like to see your review in the comments. I'd also like to see your guess about what application will be the next to incorporate Facebook: your e-mail, your address book, your calendar, your photo album or something else?

By Rob Pegoraro  | October 15, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Social media, Telecom, Video  
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Comments

What application will be next? Photoshop! Now with Facebook integration! AppleTV, because entering status updates with the remote and onscreen keyboard will be so much fun!

Posted by: wiredog | October 15, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

I would love to give you an update. However, since the automatic download attempted to update my "previously working just fine" Skype, I have not been able to login. The update encountered an error code and from that point forward, I have been unable to access the application.

Posted by: buffalo3 | October 15, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

For those of us looking to maintain our productivity and/or sanity, Skype allows complete disable of Facebook integration - thankfully. All it needs now is to be able to get rid of that pointless new skype home feature that pops up on each skype startup/call end.

Tried group video calling in the beta versions, and it is buggy, as Skype admits. Only two out of three people in the group call could view video simultaneously. Maybe it was because of bandwidth/connection issues (callers were in different countries).

To make it a real killer app, Skype could extend the 28-day free group video trial for personal calling forever. But that's probably not going to happen, considering the competitor Skype is playing catchup to, oovoo, recently started charging for their group calling feature.

Posted by: fakedude1 | October 15, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I installed the new version on an XP system running under VMWare Fusion. The installation scrambled the position of icons on the desktop, asked me if I wanted the Google search bar (the answer is still no), and "fixed" IE so that next time I started it I got an ad for Skype. The new version appears to work OK but I haven't tried any of the new features. I hope that they have figured out a way to reduce bandwidth use during conferencing; I already have occasional problems with video with only one person, and can't imagine that real world consumer Internet connections will generally support 5X that bandwidth.

I do still stand in awe of Skype for what they're able to offer at the price. I hope to see the Apple version soon.

Posted by: MNSteve | October 15, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree about the Facebook integration and I too don't see the point. Initially I thought that Facebook chat was going to be integrated and that might be useful (But only if you can selectively turn it on and off) but the updates are useless to me. Just takes up a lot of screen space. For that matter the new chat window is larger than the previous version and I don't care for that either.

Posted by: RocknBlogger | October 15, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

"do we need Facebook updates welded into yet another program"

I don;t think so. But, who knows? These days, I think you just have to try a bunch of things to see what sticks, rather than try to logic it out.

Posted by: TheChileanPresidentIsMuchBetterRespondingToDisastersThanObama | October 16, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

A company I worked for previously, an international call center, used Skype to call all over the world and, for the most part, except for the occasional outage, it worked fine. But it has gone straight downhill ever since.

My current company tried to use it, but no one on the other end could hear us. We switched to Google "call phone" and no one even knows we're calling over VOIP. Perfect call quality. Now, if Google would only add some much needed features, like integration with your GMail contacts to autodial, it would be the perfect solution.

Like so many big companies these days, it also suffers from not having any way to contact them to provide feedback. It would serve them well to listen to their fans.

Posted by: panamacanuck | October 16, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

well, like let's put facebook updates on everybody's sexual equipment so my BF can amuse himself while I am enjoying his header. or, facebook updates on your table mat. or on the inside of your fridge while you are looking for those leftovers you forgot about, or in your address book, so you can be up to date while looking for telephone numbers to call cuz you need to hook up up and you are desperate, or on your toilet roll dispenser, or on your paintbrush cuz you are decorating and painting walls is BORING or over your tie rack cuz it is sop hard to choose one... or, ...

Posted by: isafakir | October 16, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

NEWS: Toilet Manufacturer Integrates Facebook

Posted by: kkrimmer | October 16, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

NEWS: Toilet Manufacturer Integrates Facebook

Posted by: kkrimmer | October 16, 2010 12:00 PM |
=========================
Is CheekBook OTC ? Couldn't find it on NYSE ...

Posted by: gannon_dick | October 16, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

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