Skype

Skype Call Recorder records Skype calls — for free

Posted on April 2, 2009. Filed under: Skype | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

skype-call-recorder

Skype Call Recorder is a no-frills Windows utility for recording both ends of a Skype conversation. Because of the way Skype transmits your voice across the interwebs, you can’t just use most all-purpose audio recording apps like Audacity or the Windows Sound Recorder. Instead you need to use third party apps or Skype plugins that will record both your voice and the sounds of the person on the other end of the call.

There are a number of Skype recording applications available for Windows and Mac. Some record in WAV format while others store your recordings as MP3s. Most cost money if you want to record long conversations.

Skype Call Recorder is free for all calls, but it doesn’t offer a ton of features. You can crecord calls in Mono or Stereo, and while you can choose a few different bit rate settings to adjust the recording quality, all calls are stored as MP3s. But did I mention the utility is free?

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Freeware Monitors Skype Subscription Usage Limits

Posted on March 7, 2009. Filed under: Skype | Tags: , , |

By Kevin C., jkontherun.com

skype-subscription-monitor3

It’s no secret that we’ve enjoyed using Skype for audio and video calls for the past several years on our various mobile devices. Aside from free Skype-to-Skype calls and paid SkypeOut services, the company also offers unlimited monthly subscription plans as low as $2.95 a month, although they’re subject to a Fair-Use Policy. That restricts the total number of calls, minutes used, etc… So how do you keep track of your usage against the Fair-Use terms? That’s where the free Subscription Monitor for Skype comes into play, which I found through Voice on the Web. This Windows application summarizes your Skype subscription usage in real time.

The compelling factor to me is how this works even if you use multiple clients with Skype, as I often do. Call history is normally localized to your machine, so if you Skype with more than one device, you’d have to manually aggregate your call data; But not with this freeware. Of course, this requires you to configure the app with your Skype credentials, so be wary. Another nice touch? The icons change in color from green to yellow to red, giving you a visual indicator of where you stand against the limitations at a given point in time during the month.

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Skype to let competitors license speech codec for free

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Skype, Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Brad Linder

skype-40-beta-2

Voice over IP company Skype is known for a couple things. One of them is annoying the #@&! out of telephone companies by offering cheap or free voice and video calls over the internet. But another thing that Skype does well is offer users the ability to communicate across long distances with excellent sound quality (assuming you’ve got an excellent microphone plugged into your computer).

That’s because typically telephones only transfers audio signals in a limited frequency range (from around 400Hz to 3.4kHz.. Skype, on the other hand, uses technology that can transmit audio up to 12kHz, which is higher than most of the frequencies in the human voice. In other words, if you’re using decent audio equipment you’ll sound like you’re in the same room.

The problem is it takes internet bandwidth to deliver that kind of voice quality. Skype uses a codec in Skype 4 for Windows called SILK to deliver high quality audio even over low bandwidth internet connections. And now Skype is making that codec available for other companies to use, with no royalties.

According to the company, SILK users 50% less bandwidth than other codecs. It can be scaled in real-time to adjust to network conditions. So what’s in it for Skype? The company wants its codec to be adopted as a standard that could be used in applications, electronic devices, and even phones.

Source: downloadsquad

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Skype To Give Away New SILK Audio Codec

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Skype, Software World, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Michael Arrington

skype_logoSkype’s new state of the art speech codec SILK will be made available to third party licensees for free, the company is announcing later today. Skype GM Jonathan Christensen will be speaking about the new program at the eComm event in San Francisco later today.

SILK has been highly regarded by the guys that follow this sort of thing and is included in the most recent version of Skype for Windows (the Mac version with SILK will be coming in April). If both sides of the call have a version of Skype that includes the new codec, the call quality increases dramatically.

Skype is now making the codec available for third party use on a royalty free basis. There are a number of speech codecs available on the market today, including iSac and AMRWideband, and an open source codec called Speex. Skype claims that SILK outperforms all of these.

So why give it away to competitors? Christensen says its about setting standards in the industry so that VoIP services can spread more quickly, particularly to hardware devices that today are not optimized for voice over the Internet.

It’s also a sign that Skype, with 400 million or so worldwide registered users, isn’t particularly concerned about the competition any more. They’re handing over a key piece of intellectual property to competitors that can reduce their costs and possibly improve voice quality. They wouldn’t do that unless they felt their pole position was fairly permanent for now.

More importantly, it signals that Skype may be preparing to open up their service in the future. Skype has long been derided for being a closed service (by people like me, who continue, however, to use it daily). Their API allows developers to access limited features of the service, but a call requires the opening of the Skype client. If Skype were to open its core calling functions as a service, the number of applications that would build it in would explode. Skype would benefit from a surge in paid calls to traditional and mobile phones (Skype Out). Our guess is that the debate to open these core functions through the API is still raging within Skype, but that the proponents of openness are slowly starting to turn the tide.

Source: techcrunch

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Skype and SpinVox offer voicemail to text conversion

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: Skype, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder

skype-voicemail-to-textSkype is launching a new feature that will let users convert voicemail messages to text which you can have sent to your phone via SMS. The company is working with SpinVox to offer the service.

The service will cost you. Prices run 25 cents per conversion in the US, which is about .20 Euros or £0.17 in the UK. And that doesn’t include the cost of sending the SMS.

Long messages won’t be fully converted. Instead you’ll receive a text message with the first part of the voicemail transcribed, and a note suggesting you login to Skype to listen to the full message. SpinVox can handle translations in English, French, German and Spanish.

Honestly, I’m not convinced I would pay for this service, but I’m also not often away from my computer for extended periods of time. So I can usually just login and check my voicemail if I miss a call. What do you think? Would you pay $0.25 per message to have your Skype voicemail transcribed and sent to your mobile phone?

Source: downloadsquad

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Cellular providers want Nokia to drop Skype from cell phones

Posted on March 2, 2009. Filed under: Mobile World, Skype | Tags: , , , , |

Two cell service providers in the UK are supposedly up in arms over Nokia’s inclusion of Skype software on its N97 handset, and are threatening not to carry the device unless the software is ditched. This stance is not only annoying to consumers who are beginning to like VoIP, but it could also even hurt the carriers’ business in the long run.

By Jacqui Cheng

Two UK mobile operators are reportedly fuming at Nokia for including a mobile version of Skype on its N97 handset. Both Orange and O2 are so terrified that the popular VoIP service will siphon away profitable cell minutes by allowing users to make free calls that they are supposedly threatening not to carry the device unless Skype is removed.

The outrage is going on behind closed doors for the time being, though it’s hardly surprising, given the power that carriers have traditionally had over handset manufacturers. They don’t like customers having options that the handset maker wants to offer when they believe it might threaten their bottom line—even if they ultimately benefit consumers.

This attitude is merely reinforced by the anonymous comments made to Mobile Today about the issue. “This is another example of them trying to build an ecosystem that is all about Nokia and reduces the operator to a dumb pipe,” one mobile operator told the site. “Some people like 3 may be in a position where it could make sense to accept that. But if you spend upwards of £40m per year building your brand, you don’t want to be just a dumb pipe do you?”

3 is a mobile operator in the UK that can apparently see the VoIP writing on the wall; it already offers a handset with Skype capabilities, and T-Mobile has also gotten on board with support for the service. Unfortunately O2 and Orange aren’t fans of it, and are visibly holding back on allowing VoIP software so they can make sure it won’t hurt their business.

This is, of course, a frustrating development for customers who are increasingly buying handsets equipped with WiFi capabilities and want to be able to take full advantage of their capabilities. VoIP use on cell phones helps customers to save money and minutes by making extremely low-cost calls when on a WiFi network, without having to carry a second Skype phone with them.

Including VoIP software on mobile phones could actually lead to more sales, more new customers, and even more cell network use because of the new customers. In fact, a “senior industry source” speaking to Mobile Today suggested exactly that: “If you look at what 3 has done—chargeable calls on Skype phones is bigger than those without it.”

This fear of VoIP is certainly not limited to the UK; mobile operators in the US have also been extremely cautious in allowing handsets to be equipped with Skype or other VoIP software, though some are taking baby steps. AT&T sort of tolerates VoIP apps on Apple’s iPhone, though they must be restricted to WiFi-only—no VoIP calls over the cell network for you! Additionally, T-Mobile has launched HotSpot@Home here in the US, which allows users to make VoIP calls over WiFi networks that automatically switch to the cell network when users wander outside of WiFi range.

As VoIP becomes more pervasive, customers will put more pressure on cell operators to let them make those calls when they want to. It seems like a better idea for carriers to get on board now—even in a limited sense with WiFi-only VoIP—than to put it off until customers get really irritated.

Source: arstechnica

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Skype To Go phone numbers now available for all paying users

Posted on February 26, 2009. Filed under: Skype, Software World | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder

skype-to-goSkype To Go is a service that lets you make cheap phone calls over Skype from a regular phone. Here’s how it works. You sign up for a Skype To Go phone number that’s linked to your Skype account. You can then dial that number from any phone to initiate a phone call to another phone at the same rates that you would pay if you were using Skype on your computer. In other words, if your mobile carrier charges $.99 per minute to call New Zealand and Skype charges $.02, you can just call a local number and pay the Skype rate.

Skype has been offering this service for a few years, but it was previously part of the Skype Pro plan. Now Skype is making Skype To Go available as a free service for all paying users. OK, I guess that means it’s not technically free. But if you already have some credit in your account for making long distance phone calls, you can sign up for a Skype To Go number for no additional cost.

Source: downloadsquad

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EU group aims to eavesdrop on Skype calls

Posted on February 24, 2009. Filed under: Skype | Tags: , , |

By Julian Sanchez

The EU’s judicial coordination group says criminals are increasingly turning to encrypted VoIP tools like Skype to evade surveillance—and is launching an effort to ensure that European law enforcement can listen in.

skypewiretapAs high-tech tools expand the ability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to sweep up and sort vast quantities of communications traffic, European Union officials worry that encrypted Voice over IP technologies like Skype are leaving criminals with a digital hole in the telecom dragnet. In a statement released this weekend, the Italian arm of the European Union’s judicial cooperation agency, Eurojust, announced it would lead an international effort to “overcome the technical and judicial obstacles to the interception of internet telephony systems.”

The statement singled out Luxembourg-based Skype as presenting particular problems, because “Skype’s encryption system is a secret which the company refuses to share with the authorities.” Eurojust officials told reporters that the new initiative comes at the request of Italian authorities concerned that organized crime was resorting to encrypted Skype communications to evade eavesdropping.

Skype, however, disputes that characterization, saying that the company has “extensively briefed” EU law enforcement agencies. “It’s unfortunate that they chose to release this report without contacting us,” spokesman Brian O’Shaughnessy told Ars, “because I think it’s pretty clear that we have capabilities and we have programs in place and they’re aware of them.”

O’Shaughnessy says that the company’s policy is to cooperate with law enforcement “where legally and technically possible.” Last year, however, Skype’s director of corporate communications told CNET that it might not be technically possible in many cases. “We have not received any subpoenas or court orders asking us to perform a live interception or wiretap of Skype-to-Skype communications,” Skype’s Jennifer Caukin told the news site. “In any event, because of Skype’s peer-to-peer architecture and encryption techniques, Skype would not be able to comply with such a request.”

That doesn’t mean police are without recourse: in 2008, a German online advocacy group called the Pirate Party leaked documents suggesting that Bavarian authorities had employed (dubiously legal) trojan horse programs to capture Skype conversations in the clear at the client’s end. And press reports earlier this month quoted anonymous sources suggesting that the American National Security Agency has offered “billions” to hackers able to provide back-door access to Skype. Of course, even if intelligence agencies already enjoyed such access, it would be in their interest to promote the impression that Skype calls were untappable.

Source: arstechnica

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Mozilla And Skype Back EFF On iPhone Jailbreaking DMCA Exemption Request

Posted on February 19, 2009. Filed under: iPhone, Skype, Software World | Tags: , , , , |

by Robin Wauters

In a filing with the US Copyright Office, both Skype and Mozilla have expressed their support to a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act related to iPhone jailbreaking, says AppleInsider. This exemption would take away Apple’s ability to charge groups with DMCA violations for circumventing the iPhone’s security by modifying Apple’s internal software.iPhone-Jailbreak

VoIP service provider Skype has backed the EFF’s exemption request, claiming that “copyright law should not interfere with a user using his or her phone to run Skype and enjoy the benefits of low- or no-cost long-distance and international calling.”

AppleInsider correctly points out that VoIP apps are in fact allowed on the iPhone, as long as they use Wi-Fi.

Mozilla CEO John Lilly, in turn, said he doubted “Mozilla would venture into the iPhone even if the Copyright Office grants the DMCA exemption over jailbreaking”, stating that the iPhone SDK agreements clearly show its Firefox runtime is not welcome on the device in a recent interview with ComputerWorld. Note that Mozilla is developing its own mobile browser (Fennec) at the moment, which will compete against mobile browsers based on WebKit, including Apple’s Mobile Safari.

Apple’s fillings say the EFF’s exemption request is uncalled for, as the DMCA already has provisions that allow circumvention to enable interoperability (which is the EFF’s prime reason for the exemption request). It also claims the EFF is trying to use the courts to attack its unique business model, and that the EFF does not present any evidence to back up its claims that decriminalizing jailbreaking would result in increased innovation.

In response, EFF’s Fred von Lohman says Apple’s argument against the exemption are “FUD,” “corporate paternalism,” and “absurdity.”

Source: techcrunch

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Skype Integration On Handsets: Threat Or Opportunity For Mobile VoIP Startups?

Posted on February 18, 2009. Filed under: Skype | Tags: , , , , , |

Skype NokiaSkype is (finally) teaming up with mobile handset maker Nokia to get its VoIP and IM software program pre-installed on some of Nokia’s devices, as announced at the Mobile World Congress and reported by MobileCrunch. The eBay-owned company had 405 million registered users in total at the end of last year, and Nokia is still the largest handset maker in the world until further notice, so this is a significant deal.

Of course, the operators won’t be jumping up and down from joy over the news.

The first Nokia device to get the Skype integration will be the N97, beginning in Q3 of 2009, followed by (unnamed but reportedly high-end) N-series devices. Leveraging N97’s WiFi and 3G connectivity, users will be able to communicate with Skype-to-Skype voice calls, as well as make mobile and landline Skype calls at reasonable prices. We should note that Sony Ericsson already has some sort of solution for Skype by offering a ‘panel’ for the app on its Xperia X1 device (which runs Windows Mobile 6.1), and Skype already had a mobile ‘lite’ version in beta which works fine on compatible LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson phones.

Bringing Skype’s internet calling app on-board is one thing, but I am more excited about the presence management. The fact that the application will tap into your contact list to see who else is online or not, and enable you to chat with your friends and co-workers either by voice or text instantly, is a powerful feature.

But what does this mean for those mobile VoIP startups for whom one of the prime reasons of existence in the first place is supporting Skype functionality on mobile handsets, like fring, Nimbuzz and Truphone?

I got in touch with executives at all three startups to get a reaction on the news. Unsurprisingly, they call the move a validation of their services and are confident they won’t be pushed aside any time soon.

Tobias Kemper, Head of Communications at Nimbuzz, says the fact that Skype will come pre-installed on mobile devices is actually going to help normalize the use of VoIP applications (and particularly Skype) and thus boost their own growth. He also added that the integrated approach of Nimbuzz, which combines a variety of voice and text chat services into one app, is still in demand.

Geraldine Wilson, CEO of Truphone, says much of the same by declaring that this will only increase the awareness and uptake of these kinds of VoIP applications on mobile, which is good for Truphone too. She also cites the interoperability with Skype in combination with support for other communication services to be a big advantage for their users.

I’ll update this post with fring’s view as soon as it gets in, but you should also read up on what iSkoot is doing by moving beyond Skype for mobile phones with the release of a more general application.

I agree that bringing Skype to a select number of Nokia devices isn’t going to ‘kill’ any of the service providers I mentioned, and the aggregation of communication services is still a very good selling point in a world were people are connected through multiple social networks and instant messaging clients. That said, for the VoIP part it won’t get any better than having Skype pre-installed on a phone that links up your contacts to the application instantly. While companies like fring, Nimbuzz and Truphone are scrambling to turn their fast-growing legion of users into a profitable business, Skype has more runtime and more leverage to push free internet calling to mobile phone users.

But as I mentioned before, the carriers are not going to be happily standing on the sidelines as things progress.

Source: techcrunch

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