Nimbuzz, who we've heaped praise on in the past, has signed a deal with Voxbone - a Belgian company who specialise in providing worldwide telephone numbers - so as users can still make VoIP calls even when there is no 3G or Wi-Fi coverage.
The service works by dialling a local area access number to connect to the internet over the 2G connection. This means that anyone with a 2G phone can use Nimbuzz to call their Skype or other VoiP contacts.
The service sounds perfect for PAYG customers, especially those who have some free call allowance included in their plan. It might also be useful whilst abroad, although be aware that even though roaming charges will decrease in July, it's still not that cheap to roam.
At last, Skype has come up with a new version of their VoIP software that I actually want to download for reasons beyond the fact that it happens to be the latest. The Skype 4.1 beta sees the addition of screen sharing across Windows, Mac and Linux plus other trinkets like birthday reminders and a more in-depth contacts search.
Naturally, none of this costs any extra and, in case you're worried about the privacy issue, it's totally up to you whether you share the whole screen or just a part of it.
The birthday reminder is pretty self-explanatory - although interesting it does leave me wondering what kind of plans Skype's cooking up for social network world domination - and the world's favourite desktop VoIP app will now rootle through your Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo!, AOL and LinkedIn profiles to find more contacts for you.
I'm downloading mine the minute I publish this. I suggest you do yours. Enjoy, and let me know what you make of it on the comments down there.
Skype 4.1 beta
Thats equal to 28,539 years. If we put those minutes end-on-end and launched them back into the mists of time, they'd reach the Pleistocene era - then they'd probably get eaten by a giant sloth, or Madonna - zing!
The success of VOIP in Second Life is marked by the fact 50% of Second Lifers, including educators, consumers and large enterprises use voice in their everyday in-world activity.
More interesting though, is the annoucment that Linden Labs, the white-coats behind the Second Life experience, are lauching a service called AVLine which allows people to make calls from a landline to a user in Second Life, and users to make calls out of Second Life to a landline - to a non-Second Life user.
"We're launching a beta-testing programme today with the full service launching later this year," said Linden Labs.
Does anyone else feel like the lines are starting to blur? Does anyone else feel pretty excited? Does that arouse anyone else? No? Just me then.
With the Star Trek film out on Friday, it's high time everyone started cashing in on Kirkmania and, after Toshiba's protective plastic, it's now the turn of the Star Trek Communicator VoIP handset.
Now, before you get too excited, this device is a lot more useless than you might think. Yes, you can use it for Skype or whatever kind of chat service you use but only when it's plugged into your computer via USB. There is Wi-Fi or 3G involved here.
On the plus side, if you are an incurable Trekkie, then you'll be pleased to hear that it comes complete with 21 different communicator sounds and a six foot USB cable with which to parade your new toy about while in your Star Fleet Dressing gown and Tribble slippers.
The Nintendo DSi takes a step closer to becoming a mobile phone after Skype reps confirmed that a VoIP client is technically possible for the device. The company refused to confirm or deny the suggestion that it's actively developing for the device.
It's already possible to run VoIP software on the DS and DS Lite, via the installation of the SvSIP homebrew application, but homebrew applications are currently blocked on the DSi due to piracy worries.
Skype applications are already available on most mobile phones and the PSP, so it wouldn't be surprising if the company had at least some form of DSi client in internal development.
Given Nintendo's intention to build the DSi into more than just a gaming device, it's difficult to see any reason why they wouldn't approve such an app, unless they're planning a VoIP client of their own, which has been rumoured.
(via Tech Radar)
The Skype application for the iPhone hasn't even been out a week and already they've clocked up over 1 million downloads for the world's favourite VoIP service. To put that in perspective, that's one downloads every six seconds.
Naturally, they won't keep up this rate for long with market saturation on the horizon but it looks like Skype has shown the fastest uptake of any app for the Jobs 5800 since they started accepting external software.
Perhaps the networks have been right to fear Skype's pulling power when it comes to undermining their profits but for more discussion on that, check out our Tech Digest podcast.Skype
I have a dream that one day the mobile nation will rise up and cast off the shackles of the networks. I have a dream that one day phone contracts will drop below the £5 per month mark. I have a dream that one day we will all see each other when we talk. I have a dream that my little children will be able to use their mobiles the world over without suffering a penny of roaming charges. I have that dream, but I'm not sure that dream is VoIP.
Today we heard that Skype is to launch on the iPhone 3G and BlackBerry in the coming weeks. According to Skype Chief Operating Officer Scott Durchslag, it was the number one request from customers, and I can't help wondering why? Let's ignore the oversized elephant in the room that is the fact that this isn't the first time using your Skype credentials for mobile VoIP on the iPhone has been possible (see Nimbuzz, TruPhone and Fring). Let's also forget that there's already other mobile VoIP services that people could have been using instead on other handsets (see Vyke, Tesco Talk WiFi, etc). What I want to know is how much of a difference will the mass use of mobile VoIP make should mobile Skype be its saviour? Will it bring me closer to my dream?
If the initial reaction of most mobile networks is anything to go by, the answer would almost certainly be yes. There's been huge resistance by most carriers to allow mobile VoIP on their supplied handsets with the only exception being 3 and their two Skype phones. The chief concern is, of course, that their call charge and possibly text revenue will drop through the floor with all this free IM and talk time but there are a few things still remaining on the side of the networks as has already been shown by 3's success with their VoIP handsets.
First up, and most importantly, is data. To use VoIP, you have to use the internet and that means mobile data use which, as we know, is fast becoming the next cash cow for the service providers. Some offer "unlimited" bolt-on packages, some 500MB or so but the point is that you're still effectively paying for your calls. At the end of the day, it's up to them how much they charge for data and, if they start losing voice call money, I'm sure they'll protect their revenues accordingly.
Next up is the issue of roaming charges. The quickest of thoughts on the matter might make you think that mobile VoIP could cause the end of those too but just because you're not using a foreign network for voice calls, doesn't mean that you can use their data for free. I'm not going to scare you with the figures but suffice to say roaming data charges are in a different league to calls and SMS.
Of course, there is one savour for the consumer and that's WiFi. Hotspots and friendly routers of the world will allow you to use the internet and bypass the carriers data charges. This is the thing they're afraid of the most. Now, so far, this hasn't been a massive problem for them largely because there just aren't that many public hotspots and most of them you have to pay for anyway whether through services like the Cloud or payment in kind through Starbucks coffee.
So, if you're having to pay for it anyway, then why not just pay the network? The other issue is, of course, that tracking down a hotspot when you want to make a call is exactly the type of pain in the arse that the mobile phone was invented to avoid. I would say the only time and place most people would make that kind of effort would be to avoid roaming charges but it'll be even harder to find Wi-Fi abroad where you may or may not speak the language and they may or may not have a healthy attitude to embracing technology.
So, it doesn't look like we're going to pay much less each month for our phones, roaming charges will still be an issue and that only leaves me with one dream, which may have seemed an odd one to begin with, the dream of seeing each other when we speak. I'm talking, of course, about video calls.
I've got a whole other piece in the pipeline on this one but, as analyst Ben Wood has pointed out, if Skype introduces video calls to their BlackBerry and iPhone apps, then suddenly we have a direct visual link between the mobile phones and laptops of this world.
We make video calls over our computers. It's easy to see how people will end up receiving a lot of accidental video calls on their mobiles when the caller might not think about where it is the other person is signed into Skpe, and it's not a long way from there to people actually getting used to doing it all the time. The idea may not appeal to you but there's a very good chance it might still catch on.
There is one final benefit of the Skype launch. If this service really does spell a rush of consumers to mobile VoIP, then we're going to have a lot more demand on the 3G network in terms of both coverage and capacity.
As it stands, consumers don't stretch mobile internet use nearly enough for the networks to deem it worthwhile investing in increasing the bandwidth. VoIP may not take a hell of a lot of data but the sheer volume of traffic and a struggling 3G service might be enough to convince the carriers that it's time for the next generation of data service speeds. HD video streaming on the hoof, here we come.
Skype will be available to use on the iPhone from tomorrow. The news was predicted last week for the hugely popular VoIP service to hit Apple's handset but the added bonus for many is that Skype will also be out on the BlackBerry too as of May.
"The No. 1 request we get from customers is to make Skype available on iPhone. There's a pent-up demand," said Skype Chief Operating Officer Scott Durchslag.
The service will also be available on the iPod Touch, which has been fitted with a microphone as of its 2008 incarnation, and users will be able to integrate their Skype contacts list with the numbers on their phones.
Video calls will not be possible at the moment but it's something that Skype is seriously considering with the only caveat on quality. However, CCS analyst Ben Wood believes it would be a incredibly important step if it did come about. He said:
"I'm firmly convinced that if Skype could find a way to bridge all those cellphone cameras and laptop cameras it might kick start a video telephony opportunity."
(via Reuters, images Skype Journal)
Rumours have it that a long-awaited Skype application for the iPhone will be announced at CTIA Wireless next week. The word comes through a tipster via GigaOM and it would seem to be as good a time as any with the mobile industry trade event just around the corner.
VoIP and IM aggregators currently on the iPhone already allow Skype account use but with over 400 million Skype log-ins in existence, you can bet there are a tonne of people out there who haven't woken up to the likes of Nimbuzz and Truphone or just plain don't want to use them.
There's currently no threat to most carriers but with unlocked iPhone on the horizon and PAYG handsets, it's another reason for the networks to start tremmoring
Skype has just announced that it's giving away its SILK speech codec, which is the bit of software that processes your voice into a small enough stream of data for you to be able to communicate over a slow internet connection. A codec is basically a balancing act between file size and audio quality.
The SILK codec has been in development for three years at Skype and was finally bundled with the most recent release of the software - Skype 4. It's a major step forward in audio quality and scales depending on the bandwidth available.
So if it's so great, then why is Skype giving it away royalty-free to its competitors? Good question. My best guess is that Skype has the VoIP market so firmly tied up that it wants some competition to help grow the whole market. Then, I suppose, it's confident enough that those users will switch to Skype thanks to its fantastic software.
It might also be a sign that Skype's considering offering an API. Opening up the service, which is famously closed, would mean that other programs could be able to make Skype calls natively, without people having to open and install Skype itself. It could mean that you'll just be able to highlight phone numbers on websites and right-click to call them from the browser.
More information's available on the SILK website, and TechCrunch has an interesting take too.