Congratulations are in order for Skype. The well-established app known for providing free voice and video calls, along with instant messaging, has surpassed 500 million installs on Google Play.
Skype (or should we say, Microsoft) is only the fourth company to meet this threshold. Google obviously has the most, with more than a dozen apps boasting over 500 million installs. Facebook gets the number two position thanks to its popular social network, Messenger, and WhatsApp.
There's roughly a quarter million ways to send someone a photo online, give or take a couple dozen, but sometimes the easiest method is to fall back on the chat client the two of you communicate through. Skype already lets you send photos (it should, right? considering it got famous handling video), but before now the mobile app required the recipient to be online. With version 5.2, that restriction is gone. Now if you want to insert a quick photo while your contact is nowhere to be found, you can.
Airtel is the largest mobile carrier in India, but even that kind of market position wasn't enough to push through a change the carrier desperately wanted. After announcing last week it would begin charging extra for VoIP data, Airtel has backed down in the face of bad press and angry customers. VoIP calls will continue to be billed as regular data, at least for now.
Reddit user Ponkers posted an interesting find to /r/Android today, pointing out a significant privacy hole in Skype that essentially allows users to force an Android device to answer a call, making eavesdropping nearly effortless.
Ponkers drew a diagram below, which I feel compelled to include based on its artistic merits, but here's the gist of how the process works.
Assume you have three devices, device 1, device 2, and device 3.
In ye olden days of Android, a video-sharing service by the name of Qik attracted millions of users. It grew rapidly enough to catch Skype's eye, and the larger video-based serviced acquired the smaller for a cool $150 million. It eventually shuttered the offering, and now it's bringing it back in the form of a peculiar new video messaging app.
Skype Qik draws inspiration from a number of different apps.
Skype just rolled out an update to its Android app, bumping it up to v5.0. The app isn't going to look much different, but it is gaining the ability to automatically find and add your phone contacts to your Skype contact list. It even happens automagically in the background.
Language barriers might be a bit less insurmountable later this year when Microsoft releases the first beta of Skype Translator. As demoed last night at the Code Conference, Redmond is close to implementing near real-time voice translation of multiple languages in a Skype call. We might be getting close the the fabled babel fish.
Today, Skype is delivering on a promise that it made back in July of last year. That's a long while to wait for an update, but this one is pretty major. In short, the team has carefully crafted an update for Skype for Android that allows it to run in the background with virtually no impact on battery life. That's what they're claiming, anyway.
Essentially, the application (and the service as a whole) had to undergo some major re-thinking, which led to a "transformation" of the way Skype actually works.
It's 2013, and chances are that someone has asked you to make a Skype video chat at some point or another. This isn't too all-consuming on PCs, where a user can fire up their webcam and tuck the Skype client away in the corner. Anyone using an Android device, on the other hand, has had to devote the entire screen to the conversation. But thanks to the latest Skype update, many of us will be freed from the burden of giving a video chat our undivided attention, as we will now have the ability to tuck the entire session away into the corner.
Even with Microsoft pulling Skype's strings, there are still updates coming to the Android version of the app. Skype 4.4 brings the usual collection of bug fixes and tweaks, but there's also a new tablet UI and improved video quality for all Android devices.
The updated tablet UI will emphasize conversations by displaying your most recent calls and chats with each contact entry. The look and feel has been streamlined a bit too.