Android device users will have an incentive to keep in touch with loved ones this holiday season. The Microsoft (News - Alert)-owned Skype has released a new version of its Android application, allowing people to make free and cheap video and voice calls.
Version 3.0 has been released to Android users on the Google Play store. It supports Android version 2.1 or higher on a number of popular devices, including Samsung’s (News - Alert) Galaxy Tab 7 and Google’s Nexus 7.
“With so many now using tablets to make video and voice calls with Skype, this latest version is optimized to scale to your tablet's bigger screen, so you can experience Skype on a larger display wherever you go,” Derek Snyder, head of mobile product marketing for Skype, said on the company’s official blog.
A major new feature of the new version of Skype is support for SILK, a wideband codec that aims to make voice communication sound more natural by capturing the essence of sound, even over unpredictable wireless connections.
Users can hold video conferences using their device’s front-facing camera. Users running Android (News - Alert) 2.3 or higher can make use of the back-facing camera, but users of earlier versions are restricted to the front camera.
The new version also offers integration with Microsoft’s range of products, including Messenger, Hotmail and Outlook. Users can also check and update their Facebook (News - Alert) status, making for an integrated communication application.
The popular VoIP provider is also getting into the holiday season by offering gift cards to subscribers, the first time in the company’s history that it has done so. Calls made between Skype users are free, but calls to cell phones and landline phones cost money. These cards offer credit to users that they can use for these calls. Ordinarily, the service allows users to buy airtime which is then deducted, similar to a prepaid mobile phone.
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