More news from Skype. Their new version, 3.0 went live today which adds a number of interesting features, including public chat, improved quality and new (wow) emoticons. I ran the beta for a while and was pleased with what I found (I wrote about that here).
This news came from an official Skype blog but I’m a little surprised at what they didn’t mention in the feature list. For instance, ten days ago Jaanus, another Skype blogger wrote about the new white-board functionality available in Skype 3.0. White-boarding is not built in to 3.0, but it’s a plug-in available as a free down-load. Obviously this gives you the ability to sketch stuff while talking to someone. This isn’t earth-shattering. I wrote about the new (at the time) Windows Live Messenger sketching functionality back in May and Microsoft wasn’t the first to the table with this trick either. Still, Skype is pretty ubiquitous these days and there are times when pictures really do speak louder than words. This is especially cool if you have a Tablet PC…you don’t draw with a mouse, like the guy in the pic above, you draw with your PEN.
In other news, Skype is again charging for Skype-out calls to North America. Skype’s limited time offer ends (as promised) at the end of the year.
To that end, starting January 1st, Skype will charge $29.95 a year for unlimited SkypeOut calling, which is still a pretty good deal if you ask me. And if you sign up before January 31st, you'll get service for just $14.95. If you don't have a plan, calls within the U.S. and Canada will cost 2.1 cents per minute. Rates to other countries vary.
via Download Squad
Paying only $14.95 for unlimited intra-North-American calling is a pretty good deal. I only wish a similar deal could be struck for international calls. I continue to use SkypeOut regularly to call back to Kosovo, my adopted country. Prices have gone up, however and seem to be nearing what I pay when I use a phone card from Sam’s Club. Oh well, calling my colleagues who have decent Internet and Skype is still free…can’t beat that.