Skype Furthers Nomadic Collaboration with Latest Release

Skype has released a new version of a VoIP client for the Apple Macintosh platform that adds some new and unique features. Version 2.8, which was released in beta, adds two major new features including the ability to share your screen with other Skype users and access Boingo's global hotspot network on a per-minute basis.

The Skype user community was surprised by the new, unique features to the Mac client. In the past, the Mac client has lagged behind the more widely used Windows client in functionality.

By adding screen sharing to version 2.8 of Skype, the company has extended its usefulness to users worldwide. Skype is used heavily by users for voice, video calling and file transfers. Now, Mac users can share their screens for richer collaboration. Screen sharing can be initiated from a Mac client to Windows and Linux Skype users as well, as long as the originating party has the Mac Skype client.

The addition of screen sharing puts Skype into the same class as Mac OS X's iChat client. However, Skype on the Mac is different because it can interoperate with Windows or Linux Skype users. Before version 2.8, screen sharing was available on Skype through a Yugma plug-in. As Skype Journal's Phil Wolff points out, Skype may have damaged relationships with third party application developers. But it should be known that in Yugma's case, Yugma still has an advantage because Yugma can be used with dozens of users, whereas Skype 2.8's screen sharing is merely person-to-person.

Worldwide Wi-Fi Access

Along with screen sharing, the other major feature of Skype 2.8 on the Mac is the ability to roam on Wi-Fi hotspots on a per-minute basis. Boingo is a worldwide network of affiliated Wi-Fi hotspots with around 100,000 hotspots worldwide. Now, using Skype natively, you can pay per minute to access the internet via Boingo. The funds will be withdrawn from your Skype balance automatically. Currently, Skype charges US$ 0.19 per minute (or € 0.14) for roaming access on the Boingo network. On the plus side: no setup fees, service agreements or other fine print is involved.

Skype, being a globally-used telephony product, is smart to combine forces with Boingo. Boingo, over the last few years, has built up a wide-reaching Wi-Fi network that will be very useful to Skype users who need to stay in touch on the go. Skype is charging US$ 0.19 per minute, which equates to US$ 11.40 an hour. It should be known that a monthly subscription to Boingo start at a mere US$ 9.95 a month. See Boingo's website for more details.

What Else is New?

For those who updated to Skype 2.8 on a Mac, can expect some other new features. If you're a heavy chat user, check out improved chat management. With this new capability, you can sort chats in the accompanying drawer and set priorities on chat windows you have open at once. This way you can deal with the most important messages first.

Also, with mood message chat, you can keep up to date with friends' updates and add your own mood message. This feature looks somewhat like Twitter, but it's all within the Skype application.

Add notes to contacts is a feature where within each of your contact's profile window, you can add your own notes to the contact's details. This way, you can keep track of your own comments. For instance, you can add "intranet contractor" to any contacts that you need help remembering a project you worked with that person on.

Extending Innovation

With the new functionality and feature set Skype has included in version 2.8 for the Mac, they have differentiated themselves in the collaborative market. Now, users can easily share their screens, manage chats more effectively, and hop on Wi-Fi networks easily around the globe.

Have you tried Skype 2.8 on the Mac? What are your impressions?