Web & communication software

Skype Upgrade Simplifies VoIP Video Calls

Skype is making it simpler to start up a video call and making the quality of the connections better with the 4.0 version of its peer-to-peer communication software.

Previously, callers would set up a VoIP call via Skype and then launch video if the parties had the equipment and desire to hold a video call, the company says. Now they can launch a video call right away.

The software includes a new proprietary codec called Silk that self-adjusts its sampling rate and bandwidth range to accommodate the quality of the connection, the company says. With a 400Kbps connection, the codec supports 30 frame-per-second video if users have high-quality cameras and computers with dual-core processors to support it.

The latest version includes Conversation Tabs that sort out interactions with others, person by person. So all the SMS, chat, attachments and voice mail from one person would be gathered under one conversation tab. When new messages come in while a user is away from the computer, they are automatically sent to the appropriate tab so the user doesn't have to sort them manually.

Skype 4.0 has a new configuration window that detects new hardware on the system and allows users to choose among hardware choices directly from Skype. Before, if a user added an external Web camera to a laptop with one that was built in, they had to go to choose the one to use via Windows. Now they make the choice in a Skype window and the software deals with Windows.

The new software also adds import tools that make it simpler to bring in contacts from outside applications such as Hotmail and Yahoo accounts.

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