skype

We last saw Skype for Windows Phone get an update back in June so it's nice to see another one being pushed to our devices this week. Such is the case with version 1.3 which has just landed in the Marketplace.

That’s the good news. The bad news is if you are looking for any new features, push notifications, less memory (512MB) to run it for Tango phones, you’ll be slightly disappointed. The official changelog for Skype v1.3 is simply “bug fixes” which is not that exciting.

Still, we suppose fixing bugs in the app is something positive as it means the app and service will hopefully work better (for those of you who have had issues in the past). If any of you notice anything mentionable in the app, hit us up in comments.

Pick up v1.3 of Skype for Windows Phone here in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Via: WindowsPhoneApps.es (QR code after the break)

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A few days ago, questions were raised over Skype's security in that Microsoft is reconfiguring the Skype network to allow Law Enforcement Agencies can have access to intercept calls. Mark Gillett, Skype's Chief Development and Operations Officer, responded to these concerns today.

With regards to the claims Skype has made changes in its architecture to provide Law Enforcement Agencies have greater access to Skype communications, Gillett says that this is false:

"The move was made in order to improve the Skype experience, primarily to improve the reliability of the platform and to increase the speed with which we can react to problems. The move also provides us with the ability to quickly introduce cool new features that allow for a fuller, richer communications experience in the future."

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Our audience is smart enough to know that no electronic system of communication is impervious to eavesdropping and there’s very little out there that’s near 100% secure. So it should come as no surprise that Skype is getting some publicity of its internal network restructuring that started occurring once Microsoft acquired the company last year.

The charge: Microsoft is reconfiguring the Skype network so that it Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) can have access to intercept calls over the network to aid in investigations.

The reality is of course convoluted with no concrete evidence but it’s worth mentioning what exactly is going on here. So head past the break to get the scoop.

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A few days ago a fairly major bug has been found in the latest Skype update—the client app on your computer can crash upon sending an IM and what’s more, it may even send the IM to the wrong contact (Skype tries to re-send it but it may have logged you in under a secondary account, should you have one). From Skype:

“Skype client crashes during a Skype IM session, which may in some cases result in the last IM entered or sent prior to the crash being delivered to a different IM contact after the Skype client is rebooted or logged in as a new user.”

Personally, we haven’t seen this bug but it has made some headlines as it’s a quite major and can obviously have some dire privacy issues. The Skype team is on it getting ready to roll out a hotfix very soon.

The odd part is Skype is reporting that this bug is also found on Windows Phone (in addition to Windows, Mac and Linux). We haven’t had any reports of users complaining of crashing—our bet is most of you use Skype for the VOIP part and not so much the IM half which may be biasing feedback.

Regardless, if we see an update to the Skype client for Windows Phone in the next few days, you can be certain it is tied to this situation and there probably won’t be any new features.

Source: Skype; Thanks, Tagliaerbe, for the tip

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It's pretty but do you use it?

We’re not going to deny that in today’s smartphone world, if you’re going to sell a high-end Windows Phone (or even mid-range) a front-facing camera is a must. Presumably used for face-to-face video call, the technology has been around for years but is only becoming mainstream since 2011.

In Windows Phone 8, users will have Skype and other VOIP options built seamlessly into the OS, offering a fluid experience akin to making “regular” phone calls. And with 4G LTE finally gaining ground nationally here in the US, data bandwidth seems more than adequate for video conferencing.

While all of that sounds good the question for us to you who currently have a front-facing camera is do you use it?

It seems silly to ask but we never use ours except for a few times to test Tango Video or Skype. Other than that we can’t be bothered with the technology. But we’ve often seen those with children using FaceTime on the iPhone to keep in touch, so perhaps we’re in the minority here. The view seems to be that everyone wants a front-facing camera and it's a must-have feature but few of us are actually using it. Are we wrong?

So go forth people, be honest and take our poll. If you do use it, tell us in comments how often. If you don't, let us know why you don't. Too awkward, not enough data speed? Will widespread adoption of Windows Phone 8 and Skype across Microsoft change things?

 

Do you use your front facing camera on your Windows Phone?
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Windows Phone is very careful with how much power it uses. Normal behaviour for the OS is that whilst running on battery it will drop the Wi-Fi connection after a short period in order to conserve as much juice as possible. We have seen reports that point the finger at some apps which are seemingly overriding normal power saving behaviour. Is this a feature or a bug, I decided to do some tests.

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Windows Phone 7.8 will share the same Start screen as Windows Phone 8 but little else

Although Windows Phone 7.8 is months from release, speculation as to what the update may or may not contain has been a hot topic for current Windows Phone users (see our editorial on the subject here).

The site WP7Forum.ru have a mixed reputation when coming to leaks and rumors, so like anything we should take this latest release with a grain of salt.

The data itself contains the supposed feature set of Windows Phone 7.8 and it is what many of us have come to expect—mostly the same with a few new apps. For instance, Skype is still “only an app” so no new system wide integration should be expected. That’s a technical issue and we’re 99% sure the new NT kernel is needed for those advanced VOIP features to keep it “on” all the time without killing your battery.

For the browser, IE9 will remain on Windows Phone 7.8 while WP8 of course gets the shiny new IE10.  Everything else, as far as we can tell, stays the same for Windows Phone 7.8 users if this list is to be believed. Interestingly, users can expect DataSmart to come to Windows Phone 7.8 as an app. DataSmart is Microsoft's answer for keeping track of your data so as to not go over your allocated plan.

Rumored feature set of Windows Phone 7.8 vs Windows Phone 8

Of curious note, Bing Audio is evidently getting TV support on Windows Phone 8. What does that mean? It sounds a lot like Microsoft has a native solution to IntoNow.

The service IntoNow is a lot like Shazam or SoundHound, it takes an audio sample and IDs the content but instead of music, IntoNow works for TV shows. It then allows you to share that info via social networks so the world knows exactly what you're watching. So far, we have nothing similar on Windows Phone as IntoNow is a small startup and WP is not on their radar. If this info is accurate, it looks like Microsoft may have built this into Windows Phone directly. That’s pretty great of consumers who don’t want to sign up for “yet another service”.

Even though this info may be accurate, due to its source we’ll still treat it as rumor until Microsoft tells us otherwise.

Update: See our in-depth follow up article to the Bing Audio + TV feature

Source: WP7Forum.ru; via WMPU

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Yesterday's Windows Phone Summit gave us a nice serving of what Windows Phone 8 brings to the table. Joe Belfiore discussed platform changes that will expand the capabilities of our Windows Phones. We also caught a glimpse of Microsoft's Wallet app, a handful of new Nokia apps, and learned of Zynga's new interest in the platform. And then there's the new Start Screen.

Winsupersite posted a nice collection of some of the features we didn't see. Here's a few items that stood out.

  • Windows Phones will support varying screen resolutions which in turn will give consumers more choices to find which Windows Phone fits their needs and budget the best. We're already seeing this with the leaked HTC Windows Phone 8 specs.
  • Data Smart is a feature that is based on the metered broadband connection capabilities in Windows Phone 8. Data Smart will help users get the most out of their data plans by handing off data loads to Wifi whenever possible and by using a cloud based proxy service that limits the amount of data used by IE10 and other apps. The cloud based proxy service compresses web traffic and is reported to save about 30% in bandwith usage.
  • The Games Hub will become the Xbox Live Games app and will be modeled after the same app in Windows 8.
  • We'll also see SkyDrive support music and video storage that can be accessed directly from the Xbox Music and Video apps.
  • The camera app is in store for some under the hood improvements through a Lens app. The Lens app will let third party apps plug into the camera experience by mapping the camera button to an app other than the native camera app.
  • Skype will be more integrated with a Skype option that will be included in your contacts phone numbers and messaging links for those that use Skype. Skype will remain a stand-alone app that can be removed not only by the user but also the carrier or manufacturer. This one sounds like it is still a work deeply in progress.
  • Windows Phone 8 will not only appeal to to the general public but also the business market. Windows Phone 8 will provide always on device encryption, secure boot, Office 2013 based Office apps, device manageability capabilities and side loading of line of business apps.

We are sure that in the months leading up to the launch of Windows Phone 8 will come to light. As it stands now, the improvements and platform changes the Microsoft has shared with us it's hard to see Windows Phone 8 as anything but impressive.

Source: winsupersite

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The version 1.2 update for Skype has been released from certification and is now available over at the Windows Phone Marketplace.  Just to recap, the update fixes a handful of issues with the previous version and adds the following improvements.

  • All phonebook contacts with at least one number are shown in Skype contact list.
  • Ability to edit phone number in dial-pad before calling.

Fixes contained in the update cover issues involving calendar notifications ending Skype calls and instant messaging crashing the app. There still remains issues such as the app requiring a minimum of 512mb of memory on your Windows Phone, no Bluetooth support for audio or video calls, and answering an incoming call will end your Skype call.

If haven't seen the update pushed out to your Windows Phone, you should see the notification out shortly. If you haven't tried Skype for Windows Phone, you can find the free app  here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Thanks, jon b and dario, for the tip!

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Microsoft today announced the expansion of voice over telephony (VOIP) for Windows Phone 8, enabling the integration of Skype into the phone OS in addition to any other 3rd party VOIP applications.

Come this fall users will be able to have Skype as well as any 3rd party VOIP clients fully integrated into the Windows Phone dialer and contacts, giving a near seamless user experience. Background tasks and notifications will be handled by the OS allowing VOIP apps to manage calls across cellular and data connections. In addition, Bluetooth connectivity will also "just work" with Skype and other VOIP apps.

Developers will appreciate the array of new APIs that allow them to “plug in” to the Windows Phone 8 VOIP system while maintaining application and system stability.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Windows Phone 7 app update and should alleviate current user cmplaints about Skype's limitations on the platform, which we've detailed in the past.

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An update for the Skype has been released taking the Windows Phone app to version 1.2. The update fixes a handful of issues with the previous version and adds the following improvements.

  • All phonebook contacts with at least one number are shown in Skype contact list.
  • Ability to edit phone number in dial-pad before calling.

The update fixes cover issues involving calendar notifications ending Skype calls and instant messaging crashing the app. There still remains issues such as the app requiring a minimum of 512mb of memory on your Windows Phone, no Bluetooth support for audio or video calls, and answering an incoming call will end your Skype call.

The updated version hasn't appeared on the Marketplace just yet and we don't know if the Skype app was released for Marketplace certification or released from Marketplace certification. If the app has cleared certification, look for the update to be pushed out shortly. Otherwise, we're still looking at a few days, barring any issues with the certification process, until we see the v1.2 update.

In the meantime, you can find Skype for Windows Phone here at the Marketplace. It is a free app for your Windows Phone.

Source: Skype Blog; Thanks, Jay, for the tip!

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The trusty New York Times just ran a nice behind-the-acquisiton piece on Microsoft on Skype discussing how the deal is panning out between the two companies. The article is mostly positive but it does of course address a few shortcomings of the MS-Skype deal that haven't materialized so far.

Windows Phone users are no stranger to the current limitations on the Skype app for Windows Phone, specifically the inability to receive calls or messages in the background. We outlined why such a system can be problematic for the mobile OS in a separate piece though it still doesn't alleviate disappointment for those wanting a richer VOIP experience.

Addressing that criticism, a Skype spokesman told the New York Times that such a shortcoming would be addressed in a future version of the software. While certainly positive sounding it still leaves many questions for us. For instance are we still talking about on Windows Phone 7.x or Windows Phone 8? Is there a distinction between the two development branches? What about devices like the Nokia Lumia 610 who can't run Skype? And of course, when will said update come?

At least from the tone it seems Skype and Microsoft are well aware of the criticism and plan to remedy them sometime in the future.  Some other noteworthy tidbits

  • Skype client for Xbox 360 is not expected this year (though we bet we'll hear more on that next week at E3 in Los Angeles. We'll be there to cover it.)
  • Microsoft will integrate Skype into Lync
  • Nokia is in talks with carriers about ways to bundle Nokia Windows Phones with Skype and "lucrative high-speed data plans"
  • Ballmer is quoted as saying that Skype has not hurt Windows Phone (with the carriers) and that those carriers know "...the future of communications doesn’t look like the present of communications"

From our own conversations with Microsoft and Skype employees, we gather that the big hold up are the technical challenges presented with Skype's infrastructure. In essence, it's a bit of a mess from an engineering perspective and Microsoft-Skype need to walk cautiously when updating and reconfiguring the network.

We'll see more of this partnership pay off in late 2012 and early 2013 as Microsoft rolls out Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 but until then, we're expecting baby-steps. And so should you.

Source: The New York Times

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As you may or may not recall, Skype for Windows Phone officially does not run on Windows Phone "Tango" hardware--devices with 256MB of RAM or less--like the Lumia 610 and ZTE Orbit. But Justin Angel from Nokia called up our podcast from his Lumia 610 using Skype and it sounded great, what's more Nokia themselves seemed okay with it too.

Then two days ago, word came out that Nokia with withdrawing support for Skype and the Lumia 610, causing even more confusion i.e. so is it available at least for those who want to run it?

Truth be told it's not available to download. As can be seen in the image above, users are given a notice that they cannot download the app. However, if we sideload version 1.1 of Skype onto our 610, it works just fine as you can see in our video below.

So what's the deal? We'll take Nokia's word that there are performance issues (we tested over WiFi and it seemed fine) and that's the reason why users won't have access to it. However, to us Skype for the Lumia 610 appears to be okay, at least from our limited testing.

What we're hoping for is with a version 1.2 or later, Skype and Microsoft can hammer out any performance problems and get the app on to Tango hardware. Because to us, it seems like they're very close to achieving just that making this a temporary problem with the platform.

See our hands on and unboxing of the Lumia 610 here.

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Skype working on Tango has come and gone with Microsoft and Skype announcing that the rushed-to-the-market Windows Phone app will not run on devices with less than 512MB of RAM. We then saw Nokia announce to the world that the Skype app will run on Tango Windows Phones (specifically the Lumia 610) with minimal amounts of memory. This was reaffirmed by Justin Angel using the app on his 610 to feature on a recent Windows Phone Central podcast.

Now Nokia HK has turned around and stated that they have decided to recommend to Lumia 610 customers that the Skype app really shouldn't be used and will not be available to those wielding the device. See the below quote from an email reportedly sent by the manufacturer:

"Nokia values the user experience provided by its products and services. Therefore, although the Skype Windows Phone version is workable on Nokia Lumia 610, after in-depth testing, we found that the user experience is not up to par with Nokia and Skype's expectation and decided not recommending users using Skype on Nokia Lumia 610. In the future, users of Nokia Lumia 610 would no longer be able to download Skype Windows Phone version from Window Phone Marketplace. However, Skype Windows Phone version would still be available for other users."

Looks like devices that are hitting the bare minimum requirements for Windows Phone Tango will not be able to run Skype. At least for now anyway. We're still looking at the Skype app as a pressed result from pressure mounting up on the teams to get something out on the Marketplace. We do expect the teams to sort out the issues and get the app working on low-end hardware as well as the flagship Windows Phones in the future. Our Rafael looked at why there are limitations with Skype on Windows Phone altogether, which is also worth a read.

Source: WeLoveWP.hk (Bing translation)

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Do you want to know why Skype is the way it is? We go into detail as to how the network works & why it's not so great on Windows Phone--yet.

Soon after Skype for Windows Phone beta came out (and went gold months thereafter), users were dismayed to discover the app didn’t work, well, like Skype. That is, it couldn’t run in the background to receive phone calls or IMs from friends and family.  Circulating reports suggested that perhaps “push notifications were too slow” or that the problem was a result of “[…] how Skype works and how the Windows Phone OS works.”

The real reason? Well, it’s complicated

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Business Insider is reporting that Skype is causing Microsoft and by extension Nokia problems in terms of sales of their Lumia line. The information comes from the shareholder meeting held yesterday in Finland but since it was not open to the public or recorded, there's a lot of second hand "reporting" going, some of it dubious.

Reportedly a question was raised about Skype from a shareholder. From BI:

"Nokia seems to be having a problem with the distribution channel due to Skype" asking how will Nokia deal with this problem. Elop answered "If the operator doesn't want us, it doesn't want us. We will appeal to them with other arguments. We have more to offer to them. It is a good point to start the discussion from Skype."

Both BI and an awfully written personal blog called 'Communities Dominates Brands' spin this as Nokia having problems selling Lumias because of carrier opposition to Skype.

While we have little doubt that carriers don't like Skype and are concerned about how Microsoft pushes it on them, it seems like flat out ignorance to claim this is why Nokia may be having trouble selling their Lumia line. 

As anyone on Windows Phone who has used Skype knows, it's far from a threat to carriers especially at its current stage. Let's go over the reasons why this story is dubious and reeks of shoddy reporting:

  • Skype on Windows Phone doesn't run in the background and can't receive calls
  • Skype is widely available on the much more ubiquitous iOS and Android platforms where it can run in the background
  • Tango Video Call is also now widely available on all platforms and can receive calls in the background on Windows Phone, making it more of a "threat" than Skype
  • Skype doesn't come pre-installed on any Windows Phone; Tango Video Call does
  • The carriers are gearing up for Skype by capping data and raising costs as voice-usage starts to decline

Certainly we can see carriers being concerned with how Microsoft integrates Skype into Windows Phone 8 but that seems like something that could be negotiated by the OEMs and carriers on a per-device level. Microsoft has been very, very good at working with carriers (and cable providers) on content delivery and not stepping on their toes. In fact it's a core reason why the Xbox 360 is doing so well as a general entertainment device over Google TV.

The notion that Android and iOS get a pass on Skype with the carriers but Nokia (and only Nokia) are being singled out seems ludicrous, especially since Windows Phone is a drop in the bucket compared to Apple and Google's systems right now. In other words, while Nokia may be having problems getting traction in the smartphone market with Windows Phone, we don't think it's because of Skype.

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First the Windows Phone news on Skype. The app has been updated to version 1.1.0. It is our understanding the updated is mostly "under the hood" stuff to improve performance and fix some bugs. If you haven't seen the update being pushed out, as is the case in my area, hopefully you'll see it soon.

The other news on Skype is that it appears the Skype network has received a slight overhaul. Microsoft is replacing some peer to peer client machines with Linux boxes to provide a more stable and secure network. These supernodes will handle a significantly larger traffic load.

According to Microsoft the network improvements are a part of their ongoing commitment to improve the Skype user experience.

This has not changed the underlying nature of Skype’s peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture, in which supernodes simply allow users to find one another (calls do not pass through supernodes). We believe this approach has immediate performance, scalability and availability benefits for the hundreds of millions of users that make up the Skype community.

It's nice to see Microsoft invest in Skype's infrastructure. If you haven't downloaded Skype for your Windows Phone, it is a free app that you can grab here at the Marketplace.

Source: ARS Technica; Thanks to everyone who tipped us on this!

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We're back again for another exciting podcast, this time with myself, Jay Bennett and Rafael Rivera. The big news this week is the Lumia 900, its purple problem, sales and Microsoft's new SkyDrive push.

Rafael also tells us a lot about Skype and why getting calls in the background can be difficult on Windows Phone. Plus we take your questions!

Show-notes and HD video after the break...

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This whole Skype-256MB RAM situation is getting a little chaotic. First we all ran the beta, then came version 1.0 and the app requirements which strongly hinted that Tango phones (Lumia 610, ZTE Orbit, etc.) can't run the program due to only having half the required RAM. Heck, even Skype commented to us on the matter that they're working on improving the Skype app, etc.

Now, Nokia are claiming after "some challenges early on" Skype works just fine on the Lumia 610 and it'll be available for users in late April when the device launches.

Of course, we kind of knew that already as our trusty Jay Bennett remembered that a Nokia employee by the name of Justin Angel guested on our podcast a few weeks ago. What was remarkable about his appearance was how he was speaking to us -- via Skype on his Lumia 610.

At the time that was the beta version of Skype and who knows what transpired since that day. And even though Engadget's story sheds some light on the matter, we're still unsure if this means there will be a special version of the Skype app in the Nokia Collection or that version 1.0 (as is) will run on all Tango phones, making the whole "512MB of RAM" requirement a moot and pointless number.

Yes folks, we now have more questions than answers. Hopefully we'll sort all of this out soon.

via: Engadget

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Yesterday, Skype and Microsoft took Skype for Windows Phone out of beta and gave it the v1.0 designation, adding new functionality along with a more reliable connection.

Windows Phone Daily noticed that Skype app needs 512MB of RAM, which is fine for current handsets on the market but rules out so-called Tango phones like the Lumia 610 and ZTE Orbit which only have 256MB of RAM. So the question naturally comes up: What's the deal?

A Skype spokesperson got back to us on the matter and while it confirms the limitation, it appears that it is something that they are well aware of and are looking to address with future updates:

“As outlined in our Skype Garage blog, we are aware of various issues on the Skype for Windows Phone app, including minimum memory support requirement. This is our first version of the Skype for Windows Phone app. To ensure our customers have the best Skype experience possible today, the Skype for Windows Phone app currently requires devices with Windows Phone 7.5 and higher 512 MB of memory. We’re invest (sic) in improving the Skype for Windows Phone app to deliver a great experience and plan to resolve issues and build new features on an ongoing basis.”

If we were to read between the lines, we would have guess that Microsoft and Skype were pressed to get this app to the Marketplace and working with what they got on the backend (which we hear ain't pretty), hence the limitations. But it does sound like the Skype team is working hard on bringing updates to the Windows Phone app and we can hope that optimization of the code will allow a more streamlined experience for the Tango phones in the future.

Seeing as Tango phones are just getting ready to launch and the bulk of Windows Phones can run Skype mobile now, we're not too concerned. But it will be interesting to see how this goes forward in the future.

On another note, we'll have more this week on Skype and why background calls and notifications are actually a tricky thing to implement on Windows Phone. It should be an interesting read as our own Rafael Rivera will be doing the explaining. Stay tuned.

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