Maybe Skype (News - Alert) is just starting to feel the hot breath of Web-based real-time communications (WebRTC) as it closes in, but the advance of that particular technology is paying dividends for Skype users. A new version of Skype for both Mac and Windows desktop applications has emerged, and with the new version comes a variety of new features depending on what version is being used.
The new Skype version brings different sets of features depending on what version of the software is being used. For both Mac and Windows versions, there's now the ability to send free call credit in order to celebrate a birthday notification. It works in a fashion similar to the current line of Skype Credit gift cards, including the ability to choose the design of the card and the ability to ad a personal message. Given that Facebook (News - Alert) recently launched a similar service of its own, it made an special note to bring out its own kind of gifting capability to keep up. Both versions are also set to include a small number of bug fixes and other minor issue tweaking.
The Mac version, meanwhile, got a small update in the form of added SMS messaging capability, allowing users to send a one-way text message without having to add or verify their own phone number, a handy feature for those who need to send a quick message and have just run out of credit.
But the Windows version got a much more serious retooling in the form of a complete new toolbar just above the contacts pane. It offers up four buttons to handle common tasks like calling a landline, calling mobile devices, adding contacts and creating groups. It's designed to put regularly-used features in one convenient package, making them increasingly front-of-mind.
With the growing number of competitors out there in terms of contacting other people--the rise of WebRTC, for example, as well as services offered from Facebook and the like--it was clear that Skype was going to have to make a few moves of its own in order to keep up. Skype is already pretty well-regarded in terms of its own competitive standing, but no platform ever stays top notch for long without regular updates. With Google and Mozilla (News - Alert) already managing to make direct browser connection possible, Skype would in turn need to really beef up its offering to match the comparative convenience of the WebRTC strategy.
But Skype is clearly making advances, so the chances that it will stick around as a major provider of communication services are very strong indeed for the near term future. The long term future, however, will depend on Skype's ability to respond to challenges in the market.
Edited by Brooke Neuman
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