Verizon customers are getting an extra big gift next month in the form of unlimited Skype calling over 3G connections.

A few months ago AT&T got pressured into allowing VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls over its 3G network, and now Verizon is following suit.  Users will be able to make unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls, Skype Out calls, instant messaging, text messages and more beginning in March whenever they have a 3G connection to the Verizon network.

At launch, nine phones will be supported:

  • BlackBerry Storm 9530
  • BlackBerry Storm2 9550
  • BlackBerry Curve 8330
  • BlackBerry Curve 8530
  • BlackBerry 8830 World Edition
  • BlackBerry Tour 9630
  • DROID by Motorola
  • Motorola DEVOUR

More phones are expected to be added at a later date, but no time line was given.

The benefit to this is that these calls will not be deducted from your calling minutes each month, and only requires a data plan, which all of these phones already come with.

With AT&T and Verizon locked in an all out war with each other right now, the users are the ones that are benefiting.  Hopefully Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile will follow suit.

Categories: Cell Phones, VoIP   

Google has updated its Google Voice extension for Chrome, and it sure brought with it some highly usable new features.

Users of Google Chrome and Google Voice have already been able to use them in conjunction with one another, but with the release of version 2.0 of the Google Voice extension yesterday, it just got even more exciting.  The extension now:

  • Adds a button to the toolbar, which displays the number of unread messages in your Google Voice inbox.
  • Gives you quick access to your most recent messages with transcripts.
  • Lets you initiate calls and send free text messages by just typing any number or contact name.
  • Makes phone numbers on websites callable via Google Voice by just clicking on them.

The system is a lot more integrated now, and should make it even easier to save on cell phone minutes, and even contemplating getting rid of your landline once and for all.

If you haven’t signed up for Google Voice yet, it’s well worth it … especially since it is free.

Categories: Google, VoIP   

Video calls just got a bit more interesting with the announcement that you will now be able to place them over your television set.

Skype announced today that it has partnered with LG Electronics and Panasonic to embed Skype technology into Internet enabled televisions to be launched this year.  This means that in conjunction with an HD webcam (sold separately), you will be able to make video calls right from the comfort of your living room.

Of course this means your TV will need to be within reach of an Ethernet cable so that you can plug it in to your home network, but considering the possible benefits of such technology, it’ll be worth it.

The television sets will be available in the spring of this year, and no pricing has been announced at this time.  We are certainly not suggesting that you run out and buy a new TV just for this technology, but if you do happen to find yourself in the market for a new TV set, we would certainly think you would want to include this factor in your purchasing decision.

You can learn more about the news in the video below or by visiting the Skype On Your TV page.

Categories: Video, VoIP   

facebook logoEver feel like you don’t spend enough time on Facebook? Well, Vivox is looking to help you spend even more time there!

According to CNET, a Boston-based company named Vivox is currently conducting a closed test of a new application for Facebook users that will allow you to have high quality voice chats with one another.  If you want to add someone into the conversation that is not a member of Facebook, that will also be possible thanks to phone numbers that Vivox will have set up that they can call in to.

The interesting add-on to this story is that the Vivox technology will also be available to be added to the application released by other developers.  You could see voice chat showing up in game applications, a great way for retailers to talk with their customers or maybe even let classmates discuss an assignment or possibly a reunion.

The big question is how this will impact Skype.  Vivox does require you to make a small download to run the conversation, but it should still be smaller than Skype, and also will allow you to run one less application.  It’ll be interesting to see how this will end impacting the popular VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution, but our money is on that Vivox will do well, but it won’t ever kill off Skype.  Why?  Simple, let me know when Vivox is able to give me a real phone number, voice mail and ring through to my cell phone, and then maybe I’ll see it as a “Skype Killer”, for now it’s just a nice add-on to Facebook.

Categories: Facebook, VoIP   

skype-logoIn a move that is sure to send fear into the hearts of cell phone executives, Skype is prepping to come to the BlackBerry.

In an announcement on the Skype forum, the company has announced they have launched their closed beta test of a Skype appication to work with various models of BlackBerry smartphones.  Unfortunately they have already closed the test to new applicants due to the overwhelming number of responses, but this is a good sign that an official application is not far off.

The question now is if this will work only over Wi-Fi, or will it also work over cellular networks?  The number of BlackBerry devices that offer Wi-Fi is fairly limited, so it is doubtful Skype would put a lot of work into a product with such limited appeal, but cell phone carries don’t exactly thrill to their bandwidth being used for calls they make no money from.  When Skype on the iPhone launched, it was Wi-Fi only for calls, but seeing as every iPhone has that built-in, it wasn’t such a big deal.  There is a third party application called iSkoot which can handle Skype calling on the BlackBerry, but seeing as it isn’t official, it is doubtful the issue has been adressed yet.

Either way, Skype is preparing for their launch, and soon BlackBerry owners everywhere could be enjoying Skype calling on the go.

Categories: Cell Phones, News, VoIP   

skype-logoPopular VoIP service Skype may be changing hands again, but this time it may be back to a familiar team.

In 2005 Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype, sold the service to eBay for a final price of $3.1 billion.  Since then that purchase decision has come into question many times, to the point that eBay had to write off some debt that knocked the price of the comany down to $1.7 billion.

According to Rumors reported by the New York Times, the founders are gathering funds from private equity firms, along with using their considerable fortunes, to attempt to buy the company back from eBay.  Experts are saying that the auction company is looking to sell as they have never found a successful way to ingetrate the service with their core ecommerece aspects.

The reason this is a natural sale is also that Zennstrom and Friis own Joltid,the peer-to-peer architecture that is the heart of Skype. Recently they pulled the license from eBay for undisclosed reasons, but that means that anyone who bought Skype could also find it horribly crippled if they started enforcing this lack of a license.

Considering that Skype now has 405 million registered users compared to the 53 million at the time of the original sale, and that it is also the makers of one of the most popular iPhone apps, and has one coming out for the BlackBerry in May, if the sale price really goes for $2 billion, it seems the original owners would be getting quite the bargain. As for what they might do with it, you could easily imagine further development of the service, and possible integration with their video service, Joost, which might allow people to watch videos together as they talk.

It is easy to imagine that the potential uses for this service are far from tapped out, and back in the right hands of people who know what to do with it, it could become an even bigger service.

Categories: News, VoIP   

skype iphoneIt has been a long time coming, but Skype has finally made its way to the iPhone and iPod Touch with an official application.

Ever since the iPhone came out, people have been waiting for a Skype application to make its appearance.  Over the past 24-hours the tool has finally made its way around all of the iTunes Stores.  People with second generation iPod Touch units can also use the app to make calls, but first generation users will only be able to do IMing with it.  (Although I actually did make a call with my iPod, but since there is no microphone, it was just a “proof of concept’ call that it did indeed ring a phone)

While this is a fablous addition to the iPhone, there is a rather large caveat to the entire deal: Calls can only be made over Wi-Fi.  Yes, it is a rather large problem, but as Skype themselves explain, it isn’t just them that is banned form making third-party calls over the 3G network, but all app developers.  You can use the application for IMing anytime, anywhere, but calls will require you to be near Wi-Fi unfortunately.  Luckily Wi-Fi is popping up in more and more places, but until you have something like the MiFi in your car, you won’t be making calls while driving down the road.

This is still a very welcome addition to the iPhone, and the addition of Skype calling ability should keep you well under your allotted minutes each month. It should also make international calling a lot simpler… when in range of Wi-Fi, we know, we know.

Categories: Apple, Mobile Phones, VoIP   

skype nokiaSkype fans are about to get a huge leg up for using the service while on the go.

It has been announced that later this year Nokia Nseries phones will be receiving integrated calling from the popular VoIP service Skype.  The new fuctionality will be built-in to the N97 model, and owners who have previously purchased the phone will be able to obtain the same service via a firmware upgrade.

The best news is that Skype will be usable over both 3G and Wi-Fi so you will literally be able to use this new feature just about anywhere you want.  You will also be able to instant message with your contacts and the address book will be fully integrated so that you won’t have to be switching back and forth to find the person you need to call.

Similar abilities have been available in the UK via the carrier 3 for some time now, and it is surprising it has taken this long for the service to expand to other areas.

With the software being able to use Wi-Fi or 3G, this could significantly cut down on the number of minutes you use from your carrier, although you will have to check to see how your carrier will be treating these calls.  Over Wi-Fi they should be completely free, and I imagine on 3G it will count as data usage, so make sure you have a good data plan built into your contract.

Things are certainly getting more intersting in the mobile phone market, and looks to get even more so as time goes on.  Who will need a computer anymore if things keep going as they are?

Categories: Mobile Phones, VoIP   

skype-logoSkype, the popular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service has launched a new version for Windows.

In a non-too-shocking move, Skype has launched an updated version of their software for Windows.  We say it isn’t too surprising since Mac users recently got a new version, but what is surprising is that the Windows version is lacking the much loved screen sharing support that Macs got.  Perhaps this will be in a future update?

Ignoring that little nit pick, the new version of the software does deliver in some much needed approvements such as improved call quality.  They are reportedly accomplishing this via a built-in bandwidth manager that will attempt to give you the best settings possible.  They also say the video quality has been improved due to this for video calls, but still recommend you be on a 400 kb/s connection with a high quality webcam for the best results.  There is one caveat to this improved quality in that their blog post on the subject mentions”compatible hardware”, but gives you no clue to what exactly that is.

The most notable, and immediate difference is the change to the user interface (UI).  You can still select the compact view most people are used to, but the new UI does feel a lot more spacious and gives you more controls.

skype screen

The last major improvement istabbed conversations and calls that make it easier for you to switch back and forth, and also hold multiple conversations at once.  Not something I have ever found to be that necessary, but it is now included.

You can download the latest version of the software here, and let us know if you do see marked improvements.  With the persistant rumors that eBay may be looking to sell off Skype, it will be interesting to see if this has any effect on the online auction company changing their mind, or just simply looking to make a better deal.

Categories: News, VoIP   
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