To use the new feature, users must connect their Skype and Facebook accounts — this will upload all of your friends as contacts in Skype. Then it’s as easy as hitting “call” and connecting to your friends who are on Facebook chat. You can see their status updates, see if they are online, and also instant message them right from Skype.
Other features added on the new Beta versions of Skype include video rendering for Mac users and group sharing for Windows users with a Premium subscription. Users who are chatting-one on-one will also be able to screen-share while video streaming.
Skype’s announcement this morning said that this development is just another way to make it easier to connect to our friends, a way of “removing communication barriers.” While being able to import Facebook contacts effectively makes Facebook and Skype interchangeable as far as video-calling goes, if you are already Skyping, is connecting to Facebook just an extra step? If yes, it’s not a very big step, and does make sense if you are already logged into Skype. Connecting accounts gives users a lot more people to potentially chat with.
In the end, whether this feature is actually useful will depend on what you generally use the two different chat platforms for. Skype is usually used for voice/video calling, and people make “Skype dates,” where they open the application at the same time, and catch up this way. This is a long way of saying that Skype is used less spontaneously than Facebook for chatting/calling. Facebook’s chat is used more like AIM, where if you are on, you see who else is on, and go from there. If Skype is looking for a little more of that Facebook/AIM quality, this is a good move.
It does make sense as a way to close the circle between Skype and Facebook, and being able to call from Skype to Facebook isn’t hurting anyone, especially for Facebook users who don’t have Skype accounts.
Maybe they should call it Skype-to-Facebook calling, because Facebook-to-Facebook is already available to anyone with an account.
By Beth Carter at Wired