Skype introduces group video, Facebook integration

Windows users can now test Skype's beta group video-calling option and integrate Facebook friends' contact details into the popular internet telephony client
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Users of Skype for Windows can now host group video calls with more than two people and automatically integrate their Facebook friends into their contact lists, following the release of Skype 5.0 on Thursday.

The multiple video-calling option, still in beta stage, focuses around video conferencing with more than two people and brings with it a dynamic-view option that automatically focuses on the person currently speaking. Skype group video calling will support up to 10 users but the company recommends that for the highest quality calls it is restricted to no more than five. Quality will also depend on the user's hardware specifications.

Skype-to-Skype video calling is free and offers business and consumer users the option of making face-to-face calls from a PC.

Skype 5.0 for Windows — available to download now from the Skype website — offers the option of integrating users' Facebook news feeds and phonebooks. It also allows the use of Facebook functions such as posting status updates, commenting and 'liking' from directly within Skype.

Other enhancements include a redesigned Skype Home dashboard that incorporates 'mood messages' from people's contact lists, and an automatic call-recovery feature that reconnects calls that were dropped due to internet connectivity problems.

For now, the new build is only available for Windows-based systems. Skype told ZDNet UK that a Mac version is on its way, but no specific time frame was given. "The Mac community is very important to Skype and we're working hard to deliver the latest version of Skype for Mac as quickly as possible," a company spokeswoman said.

Earlier in October, Skype launched an Android smartphone version of its VoIP service that is designed to work over 3G and Wi-Fi connections.

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