I like Skype. It has video and audio on the Mac and the same on Windows.
Mac-to-Mac audio and video conferencing, and Mac to Windows, too. Is Skype the future for your telephone and cell phone? Of course it is. And not.
If you don’t know, Skype is software for Macs and Windows PCs that lets you make free calls to anyone else, anywhere in the world.
So long as they’re using Skype on their Mac or PC. That means your Mac acts like a telephone.
SKype also lets Mac and Windows users make calls to normal telephones in the US and Canada, but that’s a separate issue.
Your Mac acts like a telephone. But doesn’t it do that already with iChat?
Yes, iChat lets you talk to another Mac user on iChat anywhere else in the world. Think of it as a telephone in your Mac.
You dial, their Mac rings, they answer, you talk. The same for video conferencing. How is Skype different than iChat? It’s the same and more.
Skype software lets you call other Skype users using your Mac. Since iChat isn’t available for PCs, and AOL’s AIM for Windows sucks soooo badly, Skype is a good alternative for Windows users.
What about that video conferencing? iChat does video, right?
Yes, so does Skype, both Mac and Windows PCs. In essence, Skype works like iChat, which works like AOL’s AIM, which works like… they all work about the same.
There are tens of millions more Skype users in the world than iChat users because Skype works on both Mac and Windows (and Linux) to deliver voice and video.
While iChat is Mac to Mac, and sometimes Mac to Windows PC user on AOL’s AIM (and other compatible services), Skype also delivers calls from your Mac to a personal telephone, a landline.
That’s something that iChat doesn’t do. Yet. SkypeOut lets you call from your Mac to landlines and cell phones, but you may pay per minute for the call, though Skype has a low annual fee.
SkypeIn lets your friends or family members call you from any phone, but you answer via Skype on your Mac.
There’s also Skype Voicemail to take your calls while you’re offline, and SkypeSMS which lets you send messages to your friend’s cell phones from Skype.
If all this gets a bit confusing, rest assured that it all is a bit confusing. There are more online telephony standards than soft drink brands.
I started to work up a program or scorecard but the whole thing became such a complicated mess that I quit.
So, there’s instant messaging or chat, there’s audio like a telephone call, and if you have a camera, there’s also video, like a video phone.
Ah, a video phone. iChat is a video phone. AOL’s AIM is a video phone. Skype can be a video phone, but all of them require a Mac or PC and a camera to make it work.
A video phone. Hmmmm. A free video phone that uses the public internet to send calls; audio and video, to friends and family anywhere in the world?
That would be cool. iChat works easier and better than other brands, but mostly is limited to Mac users, there’s no actual telephone, and AOL’s AIM video for Windows still sucks even as I write.
Skype with video. Is that the future video phone? I don’t think so.
Cell phones and mobility appear to be the way to go.
The problem there is that cell phone companies are greedy and want to charge you a monthly fortune for the bandwidth a cell phone video camera would use.
Some cell phone services offer broadband rates, something like $50 to $75 a month in the US gets you a card, Mac or PC, which gets you wireless internet access.
That’s still not a mobile cell phone with true broadband internet access.
Where’s the future video phone? Is it Skype? Is it iChat? Is it your cell phone decked out with a new video camera and affordable bandwidth?
Is Skype in Apple’s future iPhone? No, maybe, yes. Cingular AT&T probably wouldn’t like Skype on iPhone.
No, Apple is aiming the iPhone at iPod users who want a single device to handle music and audio calls and internet connections.
Maybe, assuming Apple is ready to leapfrog competition by allowing the iPhone to play music, movies, handle cell phone calls, and do Voice and Video Over IP.
No, I’m not holding my breath. Yes, that’s exactly what I want. I’m tired of the mish mash and confusing plethora of so-called services that nickel and dime me to death, are not compatible with some basic standard, and take a technogeek neighbor to figure out.
That’s where Apple does their magic.
Skype with video for the Mac is a nifty tool, a cool toy, but none of these chat, audio, or video services are ready for prime time.
But Alexis is tired of the confusion, the muliple standards, the complicated interface, and ready for all the pieces to come together.
Apple? Are you listening? Mac360 readers, do you want Skype and VoIP on the iPhone? How about a widescreen iPod with WiFi and Skype? Share your desires and perspective in the Comments section below.