In January this year, Skype disclosed that it would be rolling out a free group video calling feature for Android and iOS users in the coming weeks. True to its promise, Skype has now made the functionality available for Android and iOS mobile device users.
On Thursday Skype confirmed the availability of the group video calling feature for its Android and iOS users in Western Europe and North America. Users of the service in these regions can look forward to making group video calls from their Android/iOS tablet or smartphone in the coming week.
"Today, we've started rolling out group video calling on iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets in Western Europe and North America and we expect to have completed our roll-out to these markets over the next week or so," notes the company in a blog post, saying that it plans to make the feature available globally by March. "Soon, everyone will have the freedom to enjoy totally free group get-togethers anytime, anywhere - and with anyone they want."
In January, users had the option of pre-registering to test the group video calling feature on their mobile devices. A month after the preview tests, the feature is now available for the general public.
The new feature for Skype will enable Android and iOS mobile device users to converse with a maximum of 25 friends at the same time, instead of the previous five.
There are two new views available for group video conferences. The first one, grid view, will enable users to see each other in a grid. This is designed for video calls with a select number of people. The second onve, focus view, basically shows the picture of the person who is talking as bigger than that of the other participants. There is a small scrollable row of the other group members.
In focus view, users have the option to "pin" a particular person so that they will see a large view of the individual who is the most important in that conversation for them. One has the option to change who they pin during a call. They can even completely remove the pin and settle for the default mode.
The video calls are now in HD and are optimized for the device being used. Thanks to the SILK Super Wide Band audio codec, the audio is crystal clear.
One can also invite attendees easily and add them to pre-existing chats on Skype even if the invited person does not have a Skype account or is not on the list.