Skype has announced a brand-new version of Skype for Linux users today, as the Microsoft-owned VoIP client looks to play catch up with its brethren on other platforms.
Many users of the existing Linux app had argued that it was lagging behind its Windows and Mac counterparts. Missing and unreliable features were a common complaint — the last update dated back more than two years — so today’s news will likely be welcomed with open arms.
With this latest alpha launch, the new WebRTC version of Skype for Linux adopts a more responsive interface and promises more of the features Skype is known for, including file-sharing and compatibility with a broader range of emoticons. For the uninitiated, WebRTC (web real-time communication) is an open source initiative that lets internet users communicate in real time through voice and video — simply by using a Real-Time Communications (RTC) compatible browser — and negates the need to install plugins.
The Skype for Linux alpha version is available to download now and is compatible with Skype on other platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. But users won’t be able to make calls to those using the existing older versions of Skype for Linux. And, as you’d expect with any alpha product, it may not be an entirely smooth experience quite yet.
“Skype for Linux Alpha is not a fully functioning Skype client yet,” the company warns in a statement. “We’re sharing it with you now, as we want to get it in your hands as soon as possible.”
Additionally, Skype has also revealed a new web-compliant version of its app for Chromebook users. While Skype already worked on Chromebooks, it was limited to messaging — now, with its latest alpha version, it will be possible to place voice and video calls too.
Today’s news comes three months after Skype introduced a new offering that enables users to make calls in Microsoft Edge without having to download any additional plugins — it’s good to go out of the box. This was in addition to the Skype for Web service that launched globally a year before for Chrome, Explorer, Safari, and Firefox, though plugins are still required for those browsers.
From today, anyone using a Chromebook or Chrome on Linux can visit web.skype.com and make voice calls, though video and calls to landlines / mobiles won’t yet work. Skype says it’s working to extend its functionality in the coming weeks and months.