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 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?
| October 15, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories: Social media, Telecom, Video
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