Skype for Windows Phone 8 update restores People Hub, adds HD video


Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is restoring People Hub integration with the latest version of its Skype application for Windows Phone 8 devices, released today.

Skype - Windows Phone

Skype for Windows Phone 8 now has HD video.

People Hub enables Windows Phone 8 device users to more efficiently access contacts, initiate conversations via phone, text, IM or email, view Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter and LinkedIn updates and create Rooms (invitation-only groups for sharing conversations as well as photos, notes and calendar items). Microsoft temporarily disabled the People Hub feature with the January release of its Skype for Windows Phone 8 Preview 2.1, citing device stability concerns.

The new Skype for Windows Phone 8 Preview 2.4 also introduces high-definition video calling leveraging WP8 hardware acceleration capabilities. "We have significantly improved video calling quality for all users, offering VGA video on lower-end handsets and 720P HD on higher-end devices including the Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 920, HTC 8X and Samsung Ativ S," writes Derek Snyder, Skype's head of mobile marketing. "And the app even intelligently determines the best quality available based on the speed of your connection. Additionally, we've added landscape mode for calls, and the ability to switch between front and back cameras for you to chat in the most comfortable way possible."

Also new: Toggling between accounts. "Just tap on your profile picture and choose 'switch accounts' from the menu," Snyder explains.

Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion in cash in May 2011. In addition to Windows Phone, Skype supports Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. More than 45 percent of smartphone owners now use some form of instant messaging or over-the-top messaging app in addition to or instead of traditional SMS, according to a survey conducted in late 2012 by Analysys Mason; in addition, 20 percent of consumers use a VoIP app, and 20 percent within that segment use it more than conventional voice services. Analysys Mason notes that Skype dominates the VoIP market, with 79 percent of VoIP app users/16 percent of all respondents embracing the service.

For more:
- read this Skype Garage blog entry

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