It appears that the incredibly popular video chatting application Skype is finally making its way to the iPad. While that news isn’t very surprising, the fact that Skype confirmed it to TUAW is.
After a video of the upcoming Skype iPad App leaked out earlier today, the Apple bloggers began digging and speculating on what it meant. Some rightly questions the legitimacy of the the video, while others began questioning the team at Skype. TUAW got ahold of Rick Osterloh, the VP of Consumer Product Design at Skype, to ask him about the pending app.
According to the post, the feature list for the Skype iPad app is pretty complete when compared to the PC/Mac app, with a few exceptions. The most notable missing feature is file sharing, which reportedly wasn’t feasible to implement at this time.
It has been speculated since the announcement of the iPad 2, with its built in cameras, that Skype would release an app designed specifically for the tablet. If the video is legitimate, then what they have at this point it absolutely stunning.
There is no official word on a release date for the app, but we will certainly post when that information becomes available. As of now, the rumors are that Apple is due to approve the Skype app anytime. Expect to see it in the App Store very soon.
Skype has recently announced a new beta version of their desktop client for Windows users which offers deeper Facebook integration and a new call control toolbar. Although Skype already supports Facebook integration from version 5.0, this new update polishes some existing features while introduces a couple of new ones.
First you will need to connect your Facebook account with Skype, if you haven’t done it already. This can be done by clicking the homebutton on Skype’s desktop client, switching to the Facebooktab and hitting the Connectbutton.
In the next window, sign in to your Facebook account and grant all the necessary permissions . Skype will import your entire Facebook contact list so that you can chat with Facebook friends directly from Skype, see your Facebook news feed, like or comment on status updates and send SMS messages to any of your Facebook friends who have added their phone number to their Facebook account.
The instant messaging pane will add a Facebooktab, showing all your Facebook friends who are online at the moment. Here is how your Facebook news feed will look inside Skype’s desktop client:
Skype’s integration with Facebook looks good so far but it is in a way incomplete.
First, there is no way you can call a Facebook friend within Skype, if they don’t have a Skype account. We already have dozens of IM clients so it was necessary on part of Skype to introduce a voice chat feature with Facebook friends.
Second, you can’t customize your Facebook news feed within Skype’s desktop client. There is no way to block apps, hide updates from specific people, view a particular friend list and so on. Skype will pull out your entire news feed in it’s default state which is not very friendly in nature.
The only advantage here is that you will get desktop notification whenever any of your Facebook friends come online. A sleek Mr X is now onlinenotification pops up near Windows system tray, which looks nice.
When Verizon and HTC announced the Thunderbolt at the CES 2011, the phone was supposed to ship with a video chat capable version of Skype. However, from the time of its announcement to its release date, something happened and the Thunderbolt did not ship with a video chat capable version of Skype.
Now, the folks over at Android And Me have got their hands on some internal documents from Verizon, which suggests that the HTC Thunderbolt will be getting a software update on June 30th.
The software update will bump the Android version on the handset to 2.3.4, and will include a bunch of bug-fixes including a fix for the random reboot issue. The software update carrying the build number 2.07.605.2 will also bring the video-chat capable version of Google Talk, and a new version of Skype, which will also support video-chatting.
The update will also bump the Sense version to 2.1, which will include integration with HTCSense.com. The update also aims at improving the aGPS performance of the handset, and will install Amazon AppStore along with Verizon’s Phone Finder and MyVerizon app.
Hopefully, there will be no technical problems and the Android 2.3.4 update for the Thunderbolt will not be delayed.
Remember how Android vulnerabilities were making news every morning a few months ago? Remember how Skype stored personal data in a plaintext format and it was all left out there in your phone’s SD card storage to be accessed by anyone? Well, the vulnerability is revisited. Just that it is not Skype this time. There are a number of apps that do the same mistakes and Netflix, Foursquare and Linkedin just joined the hall of shame.
Clearly, these mobile apps are not interested in the security and privacy of their users. This is like your OS storing login password in a text file. How would that feel? The vulnerability has been discovered by viaForensics but it seems like this is becoming a trend with Android apps. There must be many more apps that do the same. It is only time before they are discovered.
The best thing about these things is that the moment they break out, fixes are released and things are better. However, if undiscovered, they just lay there.
Now, data theft is still better than password theft and the very nature of using the same login details everywhere is a huge risk for Android users of any of these services.
If you are a service oriented business, people understand that data is important for you to function properly. Their only privacy concerns is what exactly you are doing with this data and mishaps like these simply validate the paranoid people have with privacy. Companies have to start taking user data seriously and handle it with utmost care.
For quite while there have been updates about Facebook and Google being interested in Skype. Today, the Wall Street Journal has confirmation that Microsoft is paying somewhere between $7 Billion to $8 Billion to acquire the VoIP telecommunication company. Back in 2005, eBay purchased Skype only to sell it off in 2009. While the business strategy saw ups and downs, Skype’s user base kept growing. According to Wikipedia, Skype had 663 Million registered users and claimed 25 Million users online at the same time not long ago.
Microsoft has Windows Live Messenger on the PC and Kinect (in the consumer market) and Lync (for the corporates) that essentially do what Skype does. So why bother with spending such insane amounts for Skype? The simple answer is maintaining dominance. If Google were get hold of Skype, Google would have a compelling solution for SMBs with Google Apps and Skype for over-the-Internet collaboration. At the same time, all those ~700 Million registered users would be running a Google service.
Skype decided to pull out their Windows Mobile client back in early 2010 and have not been able to do Windows Phone 7 client due to technical restrictions. However, being a cross platform service available on OS X, iOS, Android, Linux and Windows, Microsoft suddenly has a cross-platform communication software by tomorrow.
There is a belief that Microsoft will be coming up their answer to FaceTime for WP7 which will be powered by Lync in the background but might have a different branding, a re-branded Skype simply makes Microsoft’s efforts easier. While the number $8 Billion sounds crazy, there were some really smart people at Redmond crunching numbers projecting the worth of this acquisition. Keeping in mind cloud and communication in the next 5 years, Skype as part of Microsoft gives the Redmond company a huge user base and infrastructure that will not be part of either Facebook or Google or Apple.
Just a few days ago, we reported how Skype had vulnerability in its Android app that could expose personal data and leaves it unencrypted and accessible to all other apps requesting a simple memory read by directory. The data was stored in plain-text format and this is not expected of Skype, a company that boasts of extremely secure voice channels.
Skype for Android is potentially vulnerable. So much so, that it exposes personal data to any app asking for it. Data is left out in the wild and the app stores it with improper permissions allowing access from any other rouge app. In short, any other app installed on your phone can steal your personal Skype data without you knowing about it.
After the exploit was spotted and covered in elaborate by Androidandme, Skype issued a statement assuring a fix to the problem. It took them less than a week, and a Skype has issued a fix to their problem.
The new Android app for Skype has fixed another big problem, VOIP calling. If you were wondering what was wrong with that, well, it was available only on Verizon until now. However, from now, the VOIP feature of Skype is available on any 3G network in the US, not just Verizon. This makes the Skype app from Verizon quite meaningless.
Android vulnerabilities are out in the wild and there is one more to add to the list. Skype for Android is potentially vulnerable. So much so, that it exposes personal data to any app asking for it. Data is left out in the wild and the app stores it with improper permissions allowing access from any other rouge app. In short, any other app installed on your phone can steal your personal Skype data without you knowing about it.
The credit for finding this exploit goes to Justin Case from Android Police. He has gone far enough to create a proof of concept app that demonstrates this vulnerability. His exclusive coverage and tests can be found on this post.
Case has also proposed a solution to the problem saying,
First, they can use proper file permissions, second, they should probably implement some type of encryption scheme, and third, they need to have their applications reviewed for security issues prior to release.
Skype is extremely popular for its encryption of voice channels. Though, Skype for Android was taken lightly and this has brought it a lot of bad press. I totally agree with Justin Case and Skype should really consider testing its apps on other platforms for security before releasing them to the public.
Back at CES 2011, HTC and Verizon announced their first ever 4G LTE capable phone the Thunderbolt.
At that time, the Thunderbolt was advertised to come with a new Skype version, which would allow users to do video calls. However, due to some reasons the Thunderbolt did not ship with Skype pre-installed.
Even Skype did not release an updated version of their app on the Android Market, which supported video calls. In fact, Verizon removed all the advertisements from the Internet, which stated that the Thunderbolt will come with video-chatting capabilities via Skype.
Now, the awesomely awesome folks over at Droid-Life have somehow managed to get their hands on a leaked Skype APK, which allows Thunderbolt owners to make video calls!
Sadly, this APK file works only on the HTC Thunderbolt. I tried to install this file on my Samsung Galaxy S, but the app simply refused to install.
Thunderbolt owners can download the Skype APK file from here.
A few years ago, people had started wondering if Skype will ever be able to turn itself around. Now, it seems like Skype is growing above and beyond everybody’s expectations. In a recently filed S-1 statement, Skype revealed that it earned $860 Million of total revenue in year 2010 which translates into a 20% increase from 2009.
The number of total users jumped from 474 Million to 663 Million, and the average monthly paying users increased from 7.3 Million to 8.8 Million. An average paying user generates $97 of net revenue for Skype each year. No matter which statistic you pick up, Skype has witnessed a double digit growth which tells a lot about the success of recent initiatives Skype has been taking. However, the new CEO Tony Bates thinks Skype still needs some more work to do before launching a public offering, that is expected sometime this year.
In terms of usage growth, the total number of voice and video call minutes jumped to a massive 207 billion minutes and the users sent over 176 million text messages using Skype last year. As always, the growth in business also meant growth in human capital, with the number of employees increasing to 911, up from 733 in 2009. A good number of those, 63 to be exact, are Qik employees that joined when Skype acquired Qik earlier this year for $121 Million.
However, the almost $900 million that Skype earned last year was still just revenue and does not represent any net income. Skype still has to do a lot more to achieve profitability in the current year.
Consistency across different applications is one of the main focus in Ubuntu 11.04. Ubuntu already has a unified sound menu from which users can manage the volume levels of different music players.
However, one thing that has always bugged me was the microphone volume control. Usually when a voice call arrives, say in Skype, users have to manually set the microphone volume level from the Sound Preferences.
This is all set to change in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal though. According to a Conor Curran of the Ubuntu Desktop Experience Team, the microphone volume control should be as easily accessible as the speaker volume control. This is very true because more and more people are starting to use VoIP calls.
To address this issue, Ubuntu 11.04 will include a microphone volume slider in the unified sound menu. Using the slider, users can control the volume of their microphones like they do with their speakers. The microphone volume works with popular applications like Skype and Mumble. However, unlike the speaker volume control, it will only be visible when there is a VoIP call.
The looks of the microphone volume slider has not been confirmed yet. However, it will have the same form as shown in the picture on the right – although icons and some details could change.
Do you like this new feature? Do let us know in the comments.