Unless you have Skype configured to boot-up when you start your computer, starting the program, logging in and connecting to a call can be mildly tedious. It’s not anymore — Microsoft just announced a new ‘Guest’ mode for Skype that makes user accounts almost completely optional. Now if you want to join a Skype call, all you have to do is click a link and enter your name.
Skype as a Guest includes voice and video calling, group instant messaging and screen and file sharing features for up to 300 people per conversation. Users will be given a unique link to share with contacts that instantly open the Skype conversation, which can be made up of more Guests, or fully signed-in Skype users.
So, what’s the catch? Not much: conversations expire after 24 hours, and you’ll still need to log-in to call a landline or use Skype’s live translation features. The account-free mode also only works in Skype.com’s web-client, but those limitations aside it seems to offer all the service’s basic free features. Not bad — particularly if you only use Skype when somebody else asks you to.
When Skype updates on desktop and gives the “improving your experience” message it’s usually pretty easy to dismiss that as a bald-faced lie. But the latest iOS update actually sounds really useful. The VoIP service will now tap into Siri for making calls, pull contact information from the app into your contact list and, like Facebook Messenger before it, make incoming calls look like regular ones. It all sounds genuinely useful. As always, if the update hasn’t hit your iOS 10 device yet, that’s what the source link below is for.
Source: iTunes, Skype blog
It won’t be long before mobile networks become just another dumb pipe through which services are handed down from internet companies. Don’t believe us? Then receive a call via the updated Facebook Messenger on iOS 10 and notice that they behave exactly the same as one made over the cellular network. The only difference between the two is that the VoIP call will be labeled as such in tiny text below the caller’s name.
As reported by 9to5Mac, the app now harnesses a new feature that Apple included in iOS 10: Callkit. The offering enables third-parties to make their communications behave like standard phone behaviors. We’ve already seen this available to Android users, back in the days when Google merged Hangouts and SMS on Android.
Should other providers take advantage of Callkit, it’s likely that people will gradually get used to VoIP calls behaving the same as their cellular equivalents. That, at least, will make it much easier for firms like Apple, Google and Facebook to gently elbow-out mobile networks’ own products.
Not many of us send voice messages anymore, and most folks sure hate checking them. Apple’s trying to solve that with voicemail transcription, a new beta feature on iOS 10 revealed at WWDC 2016. Instead of listening to Aunt Edna drone on for 10 minutes, you can get the gist by scanning a transcript of the message in text form. At the same time, you can still listen to the message visual voicemail-style, call her back or delete the message.
Another related feature is an API for VoIP apps, which will help developers like Cicsco incorporate their apps into favorites, recents and the lockscreen. So if someone calls on a VoIP app when your iPhone is locked, for instance, you’ll see their picture on the lockscreen. Other than mentioning Cisco, Apple hasn’t said which, if any, apps will support it yet, but developers will soon get their hands on the API.
Get all the latest news from WWDC 2016 here!
If you don’t think Hangouts calls on your phone are passing muster, don’t worry — relief might be in sight. The latest version of Hangouts for Android is telling users that it’ll boost audio and video quality on future calls by making peer-to-peer connections “when possible.” In other words, it’ll bypass Google’s servers if both ends of the conversation can establish a direct link. The exact criteria for this isn’t listed, but it’s safe to say that this will at least work between two people using the latest Android software. You likely won’t notice much of a difference unless many of your friends upgrade, but don’t be surprised if your face-to-face and VoIP chats get that much clearer.
If you lived in the ’90s and tried to run multiplayer Quake across a 56K modem, you may have fond memories (or not) of MPlayer. The ’90s PC gaming service is coming back after being defunct for 15 years, thanks to a company called MPlayer Entertainment. To refresh your memory, MPlayer was a free, ad-supported online community that hosted up to 20 million visitors a month. It ran between 1996 and 2001, and offered over 100 free games, including Quake, Mech Commander and Rogue Spear. It also popularized the idea of VoIP chat between gamers. The ad-supported service was never profitable, however, and was eventually sold to GameSpy, which took it offline in 2001.
MPlayer entertainment said it “rewrote the entire system to revive this once-beloved service… (to bring) custom game launching capabilities for private and public matches, tournaments and more.” It’ll also offer chat lobbies “tailored for gamers, filmmakers and music producers.” Other than that, it’s being cagey about which services it’s offering, though. And while MPlayer spurred the growth of multiplayer gaming and VoIP, we’re not exactly sure what they can bring to a world that now abounds in those things. ’90s nostalgia, maybe? Either way, we’ll find out at its November 14th launch.
Source: MPlayer Entertainment
Price is high on the list of considerations when it comes to choosing a new mobile provider, but not so much with FreedomPop. The UK’s newest MVNO has launched today, and as promised, offers a completely free SIM-only tariff with 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200MB of 4G data per month (courtesy of Three’s network) — well, it’s free after you pay the £7 for SIM delivery and activation, anyway. That might sound a little too good to be true, but FreedomPop has tried and tested its freemium model in the US, with the UK being its first target for international expansion. The company is still in the business of making money, of course, which is where its paid mobile plans and value-added services come in.
Should the free “Basic 200” plan be a little light on allowances, there’s always the £9 per month tariff with 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and 1GB of data, or the £12 per month option with 2GB of data and unlimited minutes and texts. (By the way, the first month of the £9 plan is free for the first 10,000 sign-ups, but you’ll be charged on a rolling basis if you don’t cancel before the introductory period is over.) In addition to the premium tariffs, the provider offers bolt-on services that may tease a few more quid out of free and paid users alike, such as rollover data up to a 20GB limit (for £1.49 per month), international calling, visual voice mail, and usage alerts that tell you when your allowances are thinning out.
But why would you need usage alerts exactly? Well, because FreedomPop also makes money through overage charges: 1.5 pence per MB on the free tariff and 1 pence per MB on either paid plan. You’ll notice there’s no pricing for additional minutes and texts, but they aren’t needed, since FreedomPop is effectively a data-only service. All calls and texts are handled by FreedomPop’s Android and iOS apps, which may sound a tad unappealing. But, there are certain benefits to this, such as being able to add virtual numbers from other countries (£1.99 per month per number) so friends and family from out of town can call you at their local rate. Interestingly, there are also ways to earn more megabytes, no cash required. Users can complete surveys, download coupons, register for free trials and such to boost their monthly data allowances, and if they’re feeling particularly flush, can even gift some of that data to another FreedomPop subscriber.
Needless to say, FreedomPop is far from a traditional mobile provider, and there’s no arguing with the free “Basic 200” plan, as long as you keep within the allowances. And those 200 free megabytes could be the solution to an Instagram emergency come the end of the month, when you’ve munched through all the data afforded by your primary contract. For now, the free SIM-only plan is FreedomPop’s pièce de résistance, but the provider hopes to begin selling subsidized handsets before the end of the year, and bring more “compelling plans and services” to the UK in due course.
[Image credit: Shutterstock]
It might be safe to stay signed in to Skype these days, but that doesn’t mean you want to. Do you really want a video call from your parents when you’re out on the town? If not, you’ll be glad to hear that Skype is making it much easier to sign in and out. The Android app’s 5.5 update now remembers your login details after you log out, so hopping online again is just a matter of tapping a button. If you’re worried that someone will snoop on your conversations, you can still ask Skype to require your password whenever you back to business. Grab the new app today if you often find yourself eager for some quiet time.
As of today, you no longer need a relatively pricey PC to chat on Skype when you’d rather not break out your phone — a cheap-and-cheerful Chromebook will do the trick. In addition to expanding the Skype web beta worldwide, Microsoft has introduced instant messaging for both Chrome OS and Linux users. It’s not the video or voice calling you’re looking for, but it means that you can stay in touch with Skype-obsessed family members without having to switch devices or services. The messaging platform is based on the open, video-capable WebRTC standard, so don’t be surprised if you’re eventually holding face-to-face Skype conversations on that Chrome machine.
Via: The Next Web
If you need any further proof that Microsoft is backing away from touch-centric interfaces in Windows 10, you just got it. The Skype team has revealed that it’s planning to ditch the “modern” Windows (read: Windows 8-only) version of its messaging app on PCs as of July 7th. After that, the next update to the app will kick you over to the desktop release. Skype says that it’s “simplifying” its experience around a single program that you can use with both a touchscreen and a mouse and keyboard. That’s certainly true, although it’s also an acknowledgment that people prefer the desktop app more — it’s easier to navigate without scrolling, and there are more features (such as screen sharing) that might convince you to stay. This shift won’t affect Windows RT or the Skype features woven into Windows 10, but there’s no doubt that the conventional desktop software is the big star going forward.