Skype isn't new to the tech scene, but this year they are releasing new and upgraded technology that will allow more people to connect more easily via their television and smartphones.
While Skype calls and video chats have been around for a while (Skype-to-Skype calls are free, while Skype to cell phones or landlines cost a nominal per-minute fee), the new big thing is group video chatting. This is major for a few reasons: Group video chats are fantastic for families who want to keep in touch, and are spread over the world. And it's even better for businesses -- especially small and medium-sized companies looking for an affordable and workable conference solution.
Skype multi-person video chats will be able to host up to 10 callers at a time. With a sleek and minimal interface, the calling screen looks fantastic -- especially on a large high-definition screen. Since many small businesses and even individual freelancers are turning to an increasingly mobile office, the Skype Group Chats are a powerful and cost-effective way for employees and contractors to keep in touch without losing the personal touch that's often lost communicating solely through e-mail.
The most notable capability with group chatting is the sound recognition technology that detects which user is speaking during the group hat and zooms in on the user automatically, leaving thumbnails of the other callers below. Once that person stops talking or another person takes over, Skype quickly readjusts the screen to allow for the next person speaking.
Like Skype to phone calls, the group chatting service isn't free. Pricing per user is a flat-rate of $8.99 per month, regardless whether the service is being used for personal or business use. For businesses, this is a fantastic deal and well under the price points of many competing conferencing systems -- especially considering that there isn't any expensive peripheral technology that's needed to run the software.
The other latest news from Skype is the partnership with Panasonic, revealing a built-in Skype calling app into Blu-ray televisions. There is no additional feel to use Skype on the Panasonic TVs, except for the standard Skype-to-phone and group chatting costs.