Better beta from Skype

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Skype last week released the latest version of their software in beta, with some fantastic fun new features, and some very useful ones too.

Probably the most fun addition is Crazy Talk. This allows an animated avatar to appear to speak your words on screen, and, if you’re using a webcam, to mimic your physical movements too. Don’t want to bother putting your face on just to make a phone call? Who needs to when you can have a ginger cat or a baby to speak for you.

You can also play games via Skype 3: backgammon and Chinese checkers are available now, with bingo, chess, some other kinds of checkers, hangman and battleships marked “coming soon”. Other extras like a sketch pad and call recorder can also be added: I’ve yet to test out the lie detector, but I’ll let you know how I get on with it!

Moving on to tools with more obvious usefulness, SMS now works properly: perhaps it was just me, but it never did with 2.5. Skype “Live Chat” has great potential as a tool for just about anyone from businesses to bands, though the ones that were live when I went to look were the usual suspects: get rich quick, sex and religion. Nice to see nothing changes.

Skype 3 turns phone numbers into clickable buttons

But the best feature, the genius feature of this Skype release, is the click to call browser plugin. This turns phone numbers displayed on websites into buttons that can be just clicked to call via SkypeOut. With more and more customers abandoning directory enquiries in favour of cheaper sources of information, making finding the number to calling seamless like this has to be the way to really monetise the product with SkypeOut.

I’m seriously impressed with the direction Skype have taken with this new release. Now if they’d only incorporate some interoperability with other IM clients, my life would be complete.



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