Do more with Skype with these cool new add-ons.
Skype is not what many people imagined it would be five years ago. With an unsteady performance since its purchase by eBay Inc., its founder’s costly departure, the emergence of Skype spam, significant competition, outages and poor customer service, many have speculated that Skype could be the next item for auction at eBay. Yet, despite all the bad news and crabby blog posts, more than 100 million people worldwide are registered Skype users, and 60,000 new users sign up every day. To compliment those users’ experiences, there are still plenty of Skype Extras being developed to fill niches in the Skype world that some people might find handy. Here’s a quick rundown of the five best Skype Extras.
Yugma Skype: Desktop collaboration — pioneered by WebEx Communications — has long been a goal of the broadband age. This type of technology attempts to seamlessly re-create the conference room on users’ desktops, complete with IM (instant messaging), voice, video, a whiteboard, file sharing and more. Several such Skype add-ons have appeared recently, including Convenos and IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte. But these applications were only for the boardroom squares using PCs. No Mac or Linux machines at the meeting, thank you. Thankfully, Yugma Inc. realized that when you cut out the quirky Mac users from the design department and the quirky Linux users from the IT department, suddenly the squares from sales and accounting don’t have much to talk about. So, the company rolled out its Yugma Skype Edition application — the first truly operating-system-agnostic collaboration tool available as a Skype Extra. Oh, and the add-on is Skype Certified, too. You can read more about Yugma Skype Edition in this article.
Zimbra Inc./Skype Mashup: OnState Communications, the company that brought business features to Skype with the ability to transfer Skype calls to a PSTN (public switched telephone network) line, recently rolled out Unified Messaging for Skype, a single-platform Skype messaging solution that integrates Skype calling with Zimbra’s open-source email client. The Zimbra/Skype mashup, with plans starting at $10 per month, enables small- to medium-sized businesses to enhance their communications technology at an affordable price.
Skype on PSP (PlayStation Portable): Breaking VoIP news came from a strange location in January 2008, when PlayStation.Blog announced that PSP users would be able to use Skype after downloading the new firmware upgrade. Of course, Engadget got a sneak peek of the new software-hardware union at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2008 a few weeks before the public launch. Engadget gave the duet high marks, reporting that the “audio quality was pretty decent -- certainly comparable to what we experience when using Skype on a PC … The only caveat is a bit of lag time in the audio transmission … ” Although Engadget thought it had a scoop at CES, Garrett Smith had this story pegged back in March 2007.
Skylook: Download Skylook for a 14-day free trial and fully integrate Skype with Microsoft Outlook. This synthesis combines regular Outlook features with Skype and SMS (Short Message Service) in powerful ways: to send you text alerts to your cell phone when you miss reminders, to read important emails to you on your phone when you are away from your desk, and to record Skype calls as MP3s. Skype Journal has called Skylook a “mission-critical business tool” and “one of the premier Skype Extras success stories.”
Apple TV Skype Plug-In: Apple TV’s debut has not been as stellar as other Apple Inc. products, leaving Daily IPTV to ask, “Is Apple TV Doomed?”. Even with the new innovations to the set-top box unveiled at Macworld Conference & Expo 2008, Apple TV is soon to face competition from Netflix Inc. and others. Could a Skype plug-in save the day? Ars Technica thinks that the plug-in could evolve into something “useful … as long as the next Apple TV update doesn't break plug-ins, anyway.”