I just downloaded and installed Skype Beta 3.0 from the Skype official website blog. Not only has Skype changed their user interface but they have also added a few awesome features. Skype 3 is in Beta which means it has not been released as the official version for users, but it is the direction in which Skype is heading and they are allowing software developers time to use it before it becomes the standard.
Skype 3 has a slightly different user interface than we are used to including a new way of showing callers while in call. It now appears more in the style of the Windows Live Messenger. It is a somewhat tricky new interface to get a handle on but it is not proving to be a problem as I continue to use the beta. Bearing in mind it is a beta, some of these little interface kinks are going to be corrected for the official release.
More new features include: Integrated Skype Cast support and Skype Extras. Skype casts have been available from Skype for sometime now and are similar to live podcasts. I have attended a few Skype casts and found them to be reasonably easy to use, but annoying to have to go to the website to sign into them. That has all changed with Skype 3. Skype also has something called “Extras.” Extras are what appear to be widgets that can be added onto your skype to suit your individual needs. There are a few that have been chosen to be listed, or you can go one step further and go to the download screen by selecting “Get Extras.”
There is finally an answer to one of the biggest questions with Skype users. Where’s that record button…sort of..
One very exciting new feature available as close to built in as it can be (this means that it is an installable extra that is linked to from Skype) is Pamela, a call recording programme for Skype. This is very exciting for podcasters around the world who have been wrestling with the notion of recording Skype calls. Although Pamela has been available to Skype users to download, install and record calls this is the first time it has been made easier by a link from within Skype to get it.
With this Extra, you can install the little widget and then choose to record a call simply by hitting record! There is the added security that “this call is being recorded” played as an audio file is to the other callers, so that there is no confusion of who is recording and when. I have not been able to test this function is conference calls yet.
There are more options within Pamela for .mp3 recording. For this feature Pamela directs you to a website where you download a small .dll file. You can also playback .mp3 files in Pamela with the second add-on available on that page.
This new option available to Skype podcast users and the general users is a great change in what seemed to be until now, Skype policy. There is the disclaimer at the start of installing the extras that it is not Skype’s responsibility and they neither support or warrantee the third party applications you choose to add.
All in all, Skype Beta 3, what is sure to be, Skype Version 3, has a future that looks bright. If you are a podcaster you should definetly try out the new recording facility and if you’re a casual user I don’t think there is any need to upgrade to the Beta at all. Just wait for version 3!