Skype on Android Gets a Complete Redesign

Skype on Android Gets a Complete Redesign

Jul 8, 2013

Skype for Android received a complete redesign as version 4.0 changed and enhanced every little detail of the app. Phandroid reports that your friends list is now more lively and that the chat stream now displays your friends’ icons next to their messages. The Skype developers took a close look at how people use Skype and made all the changes for the better. Give it a look!

skype

Free App Recap January 22 – Video Chat Apps

Free App Recap January 22 – Video Chat Apps

Jan 22, 2013

Video is getting more and more popular with all aspects of mobile, be it watching video, shooting video or video chatting. Because of the rising desire to see who is on the other end of the chat, I thought I’d talk about what’s different options to video chat. While these aren’t the be-all end-all options out there, they should be good popular choices to try them out.

Skype

Skype is probably one of the most well-known video chat apps out there. While the Android version is a bit less feature filled than the desktop app, there’s still the option to use the front facing camera to video chat. For tablet owners, Skype has a great landscape layout utilizing the entire screen. Tablets with cellular access as well as Wi-Fi options, it’s not a bad idea to use it over Wi-Fi. Most of the time connection is a little faster and won’t cause any data overages because of a long video chat.

Download Skype

Tango Text, Voice, Video Calls

Tango is a great and really popular video chat app for Android. Not only can a video chat be easily had, but there’s also an option to send audio messages. Not an audio chat, almost like a voicemail through text. Another nice thing about Tango is there’s no account needed. When logging in for the first time, Tango looks to the contact list to see which friends have Tango already installed. Once that’s done, it’s easy to start video chatting.

Download Tango

ooVoo

ooVoo offers some pretty cool features not available on many of the video chat options for Android. One example is the 12 way video chat. This can show four of the people chatting on the screen at one time with the ability to switch between any of the other people on the chat. Like the other options, ooVoo can chat with anyone using the available desktop application.

Download ooVoo

Kickstarter Spotlight: Botiful

Kickstarter Spotlight: Botiful

Aug 8, 2012

Note: Regular Kickstarter Spotlight author Joseph Bertolini is away this week, and editor Carter Dotson is taking his place. Joseph will be back next week.

The beauty of mobile data and smartphone/tablet devices has been the ability to connect people from completely different places by using more than just voice, providing video as well. Of course, there’s no real way to interact with the person on the other end. That’s what Botiful’s Kickstarter is aiming to do: it hopes to launch a remote-controlled robot for video chat.

Now, what Botiful claims to do is to connect with an Android phone over USB or Bluetooth, and allows the person on the other end of a Skype call to control the robot using their PC or Mac. It has wheels for moving forward and backward, and its head can tilt up and down to adjust the view. This is designed to allow the person on the other end to have a degree of interactivity with the person they’re talking to. The examples given include being able to play with a child, or being able to easily talk directly to specific people in a boardroom meeting. Of course, the downside is that while nobody puts baby in the corner, Botiful can be put in the corner.

What isn’t explained is how exactly it will work to be controlled by the phone. The Kickstarter page says it connects via Bluetooth, but will it use an app running in the background to control the Botiful’s motion? Or will it be able to detect commands via Skype alone? While Skype is certainly a conveinent way to integrate video, is there anything in particular with Skype that is needed for Botiful? There’s an SDK that will allow other applications to connect with Botiful, so there’s the potential for other applications to use this. Imagine an augmented reality game that used the Botiful to navigate around and target enemies, or explore an area?

Those worried about their phones staying on the Botiful will be assauged by the presence of a powerful magnet in the stand that can hold a small magnetic strip that can be attached to a phone (or preferably a case) and promises to keep it on the robot.

The Botiful Kickstarter has had over $68,000 pledged so far, and will end on August 22nd.

Skype Video Calling Now Available on More Android Devices

Skype Video Calling Now Available on More Android Devices

Aug 4, 2011

Skype has been slowly bringing video calling to Android devices. The device support has recently been expanded to officially support a variety of new devices, including some popular Android models, and even the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The full list is available on Skype’s blog. Some of these devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S, do not have front-facing cameras on some of their models; if these devices are on Froyo (Android 2.2) or higher then they can use their rear-facing cameras for video calling, at least.

What’s most interesting about this update for most users is that Skype has activated video calling for potentially all Android devices, not just ones that are officially supported. All devices on Froyo or higher can check in the settings of the app to see if the ability to enable video calls is available; if so, then video calling may work on the device. In order to use the front-facing camera on these unofficially-supported devices, the device needs Gingerbread (Android 2.3) in order for Skype to have access to the front-facing camera, otherwise only rear camera access will be available. Video calling between two people works well, even when calling users on various other platforms that support Skype video calling, meaning that this will work to call iOS Skype users. Finally, the bridges that have divided us for so long will be repaired!

Not all devices with front-facing cameras will be able to make video calls from the new Skype for Android update. Tablets may or may not work at this point, as video calling was not available on the Motorola Xoom running Android 3.2 after the latest update was installed. Skype should be adding more devices to the supported device list, and hopefully better tablet support is on its way. Skype for Android with expanded video calling is now available for free from the Android Market.

The Hills Are Greener: Freedom is Fragmentation?

The Hills Are Greener: Freedom is Fragmentation?

Jul 4, 2011

Fragmentation sometimes is an overblown issue on Android; it still is a major issue on the platform, though. More and more big name apps are launching on Android with app support lists that are miniscule at best. Netflix is still limited to a few phones. Hulu Plus supports six phones. Not to be outdone, Skype for Android supports four. Of course, Hulu Plus is still more ridiculous just because of the fact that this is a device that runs Flash, and the only thing stopping browser-based support of Hulu on Android is Hulu. This also affects the world of gaming; Order & Chaos Online’s support list is a nonsensical mish-mash of devices, as well. Any particular reason why the Samsung Captivate, a Galaxy S phone, doesn’t support the game when other carriers’ Galaxy S phones do support it? Of course, this is AT&T’s version of the phone; anything is possible.

This has led me to hypothesize that if Google+’s “Hangouts” feature ever were to come to mobile (and Google has talked about it), iOS would be more likely to get it first. While Gingerbread does have built-in video calling, video calling between multiple platforms is apparently a very tricky proposition; it might be difficult for Google to get it supported on a wide array of devices. It’s quite possible that if and when the iOS version of Google+ launches, it could be getting Hangouts much sooner, or at least on a wider array of devices, than Android gets it. Mind you, this is a Google service, so while such a possibility is unlikely, it would be tremendously ironic considering that fragmentation is still Android’s biggest problem.

iOS devices are not free from fragmentation, and some apps don’t work on some devices, sure; earlier devices are quickly being phased out by Apple, and there was legitimate fear that iOS5 would have spelled doom for the iPhone 3GS, which still gets advertized by AT&T, though it appears it is safe for at least a few more months. However, iOS does have the advantage of more unified hardware and software bases in order to make development for features like cameras far easier than they are on Android, which is partially why features like Skype video calling come quicker to iOS, and why Netflix and Hulu Plus were able to get to release on iOS much sooner. The openness of Android is at times its strength and its drawback; and at times, its drawbacks are on full display.