Shh! Skype may filter out annoying typing sounds

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For anyone who has participated on a well-attended conference call, it’s a familiar problem: the tap-Tap-TAP of some anonymous participant, typing notes. Fortunately, a future version of Skype may silence the offending fingers.

The Next Web reports that Microsoft held a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, this week, where Microsoft executives suggested that they might adapt a similar typing-quashing technology from the company’s Lync software.

The technology apparently “listens” for the sound of typing, then filters it out automatically, at least within Lync. As The Next Web notes, Google has implemented a similar, but heavy-handed solution: its Hangouts automatically detect the typing sound, mute the offender, then quietly send a private note to him or her asking them to mute their microphone.

Microsoft declined to comment. "Microsoft has been hard at work to make the experiences for Lync and Skype customers seamless, an example being Lync-Skype voice connectivity that we announced earlier in the year," a spokeswoman said via email. "As part of this work, our teams have been learning from each other and collaborating to provide the best communications experiences for users. However, we have nothing further to share on key tab suppression for Skype at this time."

Skype as the center of attention

Skype has has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight; since acquiring the service for $8.5 billion in 2011, Microsoft has made Skype the centerpiece of its communications strategy.

Skype has been built into Windows 8, the Xbox One, Office, Windows Phone, and other Microsoft products, including Outlook.com. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer’s strategy is to bring Yammer, Skype, and Lync together into some hybrid communications and collaboration solution.

In 2012, Skype users totaled more than 663 million users worldwide; currently, over 300 million connected users use Skype each month, the Microsoft spokeswoman said. But with Skype’s new role as both a consumer and business communications medium--across multiple platforms--those numbers should increase. Long-time users, however, have been upset by the pace of change, as the backlash against changes in Skype’s desktop API demonstrated.

Eliminating the pesky typing sounds may not be a game-changer, but it’s a nice feature that will benefit consumers and business people alike. Now if they could only filter out sounds like meowing, water running, and (worse still) toilets flushing.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 4:36 PM with a statement from Microsoft.

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