The first time I did a three-way conference call with my sisters in the US, me in Sweden, and our parents in Nigeria, I sent Skype a direct tweet along the lines of “I love you guys!”
With family spread out across three different continents, all aging with each passing day, Skype remains an integral part of my family’s daily conversations. Beyond interacting via short status updates on Facebook to check in with each other, Skype has been invaluable to us for more concrete verbal interactions.
Before the advent of Twitter, Facebook seemed to be the preferred social networking tool for travelers who wanted to quickly share snippets (status updates and photos) of what they were currently experiencing. And now that Facebook has recently announced that it has teamed up with Skype to launch video powered calls directly from Facebook accounts, you can call up friends and contacts via video as they dispatch about their travels.
How it works in a nutshell
Similar to the “Message” and “Poke” buttons (I still don’t get the “Poke” idea but I digress), there’s a new button called “Call”. When clicked, it launches a popup window asking if the other party is interested in accepting your call.
Why is this making news?
According to TechCrunch,
Facebook emphasized the fact that users will not have to create new Skype accounts to make calls, and that this will allow users to call their friends and family with a very minimal amount of setup (the flow for installing the applet only took a few seconds).
Of course, this comes just a week after the launch of Google+, which includes a video chat feature called ‘Hangouts’. Facebook’s video chat doesn’t support group chats yet, but when asked if Facebook will be rolling out group video calling, Zuckerberg said not to rule anything out. He added that one-to-one calling makes up the vast majority of video calling.
Skype CEO Tony Bates took the stage to make a few comments. One important thing he noted: Skype is talking with Facebook about having some paid products available through the web format.
What about privacy?
It’s no secret that Facebook has been embroiled in user privacy issues for years so one of the concerns remains if Facebook will be monitoring and recording all calls made through its Skype integrated feature. And how would users control if they want to be contacted or not?
While questions are still being hashed out, only time (and connection quality) will tell if Facebook and Skype getting in bed together will create an unmatched social networking tool.