Skype for Windows Phone 8.1 lets users upgrade calls to video chats, and more

skype for web beta gets global rollout

Skype made a fleeting appearance on the opening day of Microsoft’s Build 2014 developer conference in San Francisco Wednesday, with the computer giant revealing details of a brand new Skype app set to launch with Windows Phone 8.1 in the coming months.

The headline feature of the new app is the ability to jump from a regular cellular call to a Skype video chat with a simple tap.

“We know Skype users feel most connected to their friends and family when they can see their faces,” Skype’s Lara Kingwell says on the company’s official blog. “For the first time on mobile, you can easily upgrade your regular phone calls to Skype video calls.”

Of course, for the feature (demonstrated below) to work, users will need to ensure they have both sets of details – cellular number and Skype information of their contact – on their handset.

Microsoft is touting the video upgrade capability as a Windows Phone-only feature, though it’s entirely possible it’ll find its way to Android and iOS at some point.

As you might expect, Microsoft is keen to get Cortana – its just-unveiled Siri-like personal assistant – integrated into its various apps and services from the get-go. With Skype for Windows Phone 8.1, users can easily initiate a video call via Cortana simply by uttering the words, “Skype video call [name of buddy].”

The new Skype app will, of course, bring with it all the usual features to which Windows Phone users of the Internet-based calling service have become accustomed, including real-time notifications and updates on the Live Tile, video instant messaging, and HD 720p video calling.

Skype, which launched in 2003, was acquired by Microsoft for $8.5 billion back in 2011. Before that, online auction site eBay purchased it for $2.6 billion, though that acquisition proved something of a fruitless exercise for both parties.

[Image: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock]

Gaming

Blackout to go? Call of Duty: Mobile is coming this summer

Activision and Tencent have partnered to create Call of Duty: Mobile, a free-to-play version of the popular shooter franchise that will be available on iOS and Android devices this summer.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Mobile

These voice-changing apps will have you punking friends and family like a pro

Have you ever wanted to call your friends as Darth Vader or Alvin from the Chipmunks? If you want to play a prank on your friends, we have the best voice-changer apps for iOS and Android, whether you want to record audio or make a call.
Mobile

FCC to help first responders pinpoint 911 callers in multistory buildings

When someone calls 911 from their cell phone, wireless carriers provide operators with an approximate location. Now the FCC wants the carriers to provide vertical location data to pinpoint 911 callers inside multi-story buildings.
Wearables

Tips and tricks to get you started with your new Fitbit Inspire HR

The Inspire HR may be an entry-level fitness tracker in Fitbit's lineup, but the device still has plenty of features to explore. These are our favorite tips and tricks to help you use the Inspire HR to its fullest potential.
Mobile

How three simple words could be the difference between life and death

What3Words’ app-based address system gives a three-word code to every three-meter-square patch on the planet, with its accuracy and ease of use now catching the attention of first responders in the U.K.
Wearables

The Tacs Nato-Lens is a watch for those who live life through a camera lens

Not all watches have to be round, or connect to your phone. The Tacs Nato-Lens is a stylish piece of wristwear with a design inspired by classic SLR cameras, making it a geeky timepiece for the camera and watch fan.
Mobile

The Moto G7 Power, with its massive battery, is now available for purchase

After a number of leaks and rumors, the Motorola Moto G7, Moto G7 Play, and Moto G7 Power are finally here. The devices represent quite a spec bump over the previous-generation Moto G6 phones, yet still come at a reasonable price.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.
Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Mobile

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.
Mobile

HMD Global admits Nokia 7 Plus handsets sent user data to China

Nokia could be in some hot water. According to recent reports, Nokia 7 models may be secretly sending data to China without the user knowing about it. Nokia says that the issue was a software bug and that it has been fixed.
Mobile

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.