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Skype Releases Open SDK

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the build-it-they-will-come dept.

Communications 108

An anonymous reader writes "SkypeKit gives Linux developers access to core functionality, allowing Linux developers to add video, calling, and instant messaging features to desktop applications. The SDK also comes with the freshly royalty-free SILK codec for high-end audio. Skype is hoping that the inclusion of SILK will popularize the codec, extending its reach. Currently, the SkypeKit beta is only available for Linux on an invite-only basis, with Windows and Mac versions planned in coming weeks. The SDK does not cover Android or Mac, an odd choice considering the announcement of SkypeKit championed itself for extending the functionality of Skype to multiple platforms and devices. Including smartphones in the SDK seems like an obvious move." Ars Technica has a rundown, too.

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108 comments

Hmm - This and google voice... (1)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670684)

This should be interesting... I wonder what a combination of Skype and Google Voice could do for me...

Re:Hmm - This and google voice... (2, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670940)

It could give you super cow powers but you don't know about the secret of internet-centered programming with MATHEMATICS powers so you won't go far my friend I am sorry to say.

So how does this work? (2, Interesting)

hkmwbz (531650) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670694)

I'm assuming that Skype plans on making money off of this somehow, so how are they doing that? Are they hoping for people to use Skype technologies everywhere, so that more people will start paying Skype for the commercial/paid offerings they have?

Re:So how does this work? (3, Interesting)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670764)

Using SkypeOut as a trunk in Asterisk would make them a little bit of cash. Otherwise, I can't really say I know what their "normal" business model ever was.

Re:So how does this work? (3, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671146)

I don't see why, Skype are pretty expensive compared to the various SIP providers out there which Asterisk already supports natively... And with an open protocol like SIP you actually have a choice of providers.

Re:So how does this work? (2, Interesting)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671338)

I suspect this is related somehow to FaceTime, which Apple also open sourced. Skype could potentially face loosing the market, much like Adobe is with Flash vs. HTML5.

Re:So how does this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32674280)

Facetime is just IMS (aka the calls part of 4G) which is just SIP plus some nasty patented codecs (AMR/AAC, H.264). Apple hardly "open sourced" it.

Re:So how does this work? (2, Informative)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#32675870)

I realize you're probably trolling, but I'll answer anyway. FaceTime is a bit more than 'just SIP'. SIP just gets the session started. This will be an open sourcing of the core technology stack required to use FaceTime.

  • H.264 and AAC, its ISO/MPEG video and audio codecs (just like iChat).
  • SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), the open IETF signaling protocol for VoIP used by iChat AV.
  • STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT), an IETF standard for dealing with lots of different kinds of NAT.
  • TURN (Traversal Using Relay NAT), an IETF standard for allowing a client behind NAT to receive incoming requests like a server.
  • ICE (Interactive Connectivity Establishment) an IETF standard which helps set up connections through NAT firewalls.
  • RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol), an iETF standard for delivering media streams in VoIP.
  • SRTP (Secure RTP) an IETF standard designed to provide encryption, message authentication and integrity for the data streams.
  • AAC Advanced audio coding standard. Widely used today in audio and video communications and has established interoperability.

All of the above are open standards (yes there is a difference between open standard and royalty free, but that's another discussion), but the framework that Apple created to bundle all of the above together (the pieces that makes it all work together), is what's being open sourced. I believe there is only one other phone on the market that even supports all of the necessary protocols (N900). It hasn't been 'done for years' in this way.

Skype in contrast, is proprietary, although they may have been spooked into releasing some API's into their framework as they see a posible threat here to their video chat throne. Apple has the muscle to get hardware vendor buy-in from folks like Cisco. Video chat could take off in a whole new way, and I'm not referring to business client. Sure folks have had the capability to use it on their phones for some years, but few do, and trends show the number is actually shrinking, probably due to poor interoperability. Hopefully Apple has the muscle to standardize all of these technologies into a functional (read: easy to use) bundle that all of the phone manufacturers will jump onto.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

21mhz (443080) | more than 3 years ago | (#32682992)

N900 lacks ICE and SRTP.
That said, I don't believe FaceTime is entirely done to open standards, as SIP standards tend to permit too much variation, suffer from feature creep, and have trouble consistently addressing the challenges of modern internet such as NAT. There has to be a particular way FaceTime implements all that, and it has to be followed by other implementations to be interoperable. If theirs will be a no-strings-attached specification, this means finally there will be a major standardizing force that has a significant market share and nails things down enough for any two implementations to work without tweaks. Except, we don't really need to invent that because there is already XMPP and Jingle.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#32685708)

Thanks for the correction. I didn't know the N900 lacked ICE, although it could arguably squeak by without SRTP. I'm hoping Apple gets some folks like Cisco to sign onto this so that home users can just rely on their local firewall to handle the setup/config.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

LaRainette (1739938) | more than 3 years ago | (#32685790)

I realize you're probably trolling, but I'll answer anyway. FaceTime is a bit more than 'just SIP'. SIP just gets the session started. This will be an open sourcing of the core technology stack required to use FaceTime.

  • H.264 and AAC, its ISO/MPEG video and audio codecs (just like iChat).

H.264 and AAC are ISO and a MPEG-LA property and are NOT Open-source.

The fact that some piece of software became a "standard" ( ISO or whatever) just means that the company that owns it lobbied effectively. Doesn't mean it is open source.
You seem very able to copy paste definition and very less able to see the difference between standard and Open source which totally puzzles me.

On a unrelated note : it is not because Skype is proprietary and aims at world domination through VOIP that Apple is less...
Apple open sourced the framework like you say because they heavily patented some of the elements you present as standards and they plan to make the money (and keep the control) with this.

I'm not taking a pro Skype stance here, but clearly right now, Skype is more open and more open source than Apple (on the VOIP software front).

BTW : regarding this

Hopefully Apple has the muscle to standardize all of these technologies into a functional (read: easy to use) bundle that all of the phone manufacturers will jump onto.

it is precisely because Apple has so much power Skype has not that one should pay more attention to what twisted way to get control Apple is trying to take : they might succeed !

Re:So how does this work? (3, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672600)

Skype is:

a) Much cheaper now, they have several A-Z ratecards, some of the reasonably cheap (I have good carriers to compare, their prices are somewhat similar to Verizon(SIP), Voipjet (IAX2) and Minutehub(SIP) on many routes, and cheaper on some, and they have a reasonable quality)
b) They do provide SIP access. I have them configured with sip.skype.com in several asterisk servers.

Re:So how does this work? (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670868)

Skype has products that they charge by the minute for.

Every single thing they do doesn't have to be a profit center. Some of it can just help build the brand.

Re:So how does this work? (4, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670886)

Are they hoping for people to use Skype technologies everywhere, so that more people will start paying Skype for the commercial/paid offerings they have?

Short answer, yes.

Long answer, YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS

Re:So how does this work? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670922)

Given that their definition of "open" seems to be "Why yes, you are welcome to make your application dependent on our proprietary binary and network through this set of defined interfaces, at least on such platforms as we have blessed for the purpose." I'm assuming that Skype is operating on the assumption that they will pick up some additional customers for their commercial offerings who might have been put off by having to use the Skype client itself.

It is also possible, given the omission of android, that they also hope to have their embedded version be something that companies have to pay for in order to integrate with their products(just as Flash was free on the desktop but licensed for inclusion in embedded devices, back before steve stole their lunch money)

Re:So how does this work? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671764)

Agreed. For services like this, open can't mean any less than open protocols and distributed p2p servers that anyone can run, which all share an open, downloadable database.

Re:So how does this work? (2, Funny)

jvillain (546827) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672186)

Am I the only one having a little trouble making the word "Open" mesh with the phrase "by invite only"?

Re:So how does this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32672512)

Given that their definition of "open" seems to be "Why yes, you are welcome to make your application dependent on our proprietary binary ...

How much you want to bet that a fleet of fools rushes in, starts writing skype apps, leaving those who don't stuck between a rock and a hard place.

We seem to be re-learning the same lessons over, and over and over.. it never ends.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 3 years ago | (#32674408)

Skype delivers one of the two binary softwares I use on a daily basis. And it
  * is stable,
  * works reliably and as one would expect it to,
  * is free,
  * doesn't have on par FLOSS rivals (sorry, ekiga, no)
They develop a Linux version that is properly not making them any profit.

Yes it would be nicer if it was open source, or if someone developed (and built the community) an open source alternative.

But compared to what Skype is right now, the use would not be better by much.

Re:So how does this work? (2, Interesting)

vivian (156520) | more than 3 years ago | (#32674736)

It should be making them a profit - I only use Linux and use Skype for nearly all my calls and have been doing so for several years now, since August 2006. I have a skype-Out account, and regularly make calls to mobile phones and land-lines, and occasionally overseas, and I have a skype-in number too. So far in 2010, I have spent $63 with them.

Surely I can't be the only one. I definitely feel like a second class citizen in the Skype world though, with a UI that has been in beta for a year, and is significantly lagging the windows versions.

From what I understand of the situation, Skype is restricted in what they can release as open source, due to licensing of certain technologies they have in their codecs - not much can be done about that I suppose, short of a complete rewrite or finding a suitable replacement that is not so encumbered.

If the released API makes it possible to create calls, send & receive video and fetch on-line info about your contacts, then great! At last it will be possible to write a decent front end!

I Really don't know why the front end wasn't written using QT, so that it wouldn't be such a big deal to keep all platforms on the same version of UI, , but I sure intend to have a stab at writing a front end in QT/C++ if I can get my grubby little hands on a copy of the API and libraries.

First thing I will be implementing in my front end for skype: Some kind of filter so I stop getting those damn penis enlargment ads / chat with Mis-sxyxxx chick etc. that keep popping up every few days.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

Zebedeu (739988) | more than 3 years ago | (#32675012)

First thing I will be implementing in my front end for skype: Some kind of filter so I stop getting those damn penis enlargment ads / chat with Mis-sxyxxx chick etc. that keep popping up every few days.

Have you tried going to the preferences and simply setting skype to only accept calls and chats from people in your contact list?

It's kind of annoying that this isn't set by default, but you just have to do it once after installation.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

vivian (156520) | more than 3 years ago | (#32675090)

I considered doing this, but I sometimes hand my business card out to people, which has my skype details on it.

In the same way that you wouldn't want to block people from calling your phone unless they were on your friends list, I do not want to block people from skyping me if they are not on my contacts list.

I do however want to be able to eliminate the lamer contacts.

If there were some way to tell how long a skype account had been active, Ideally, I would like to have a filter so that I could only be contacted by people that had some minimum skype credit, or that had an account that was more than say, a month old, or block messages from accounts that had sent messages to more than 100 people today.

If the skype admins cancel accounts that are reported as being abusive from several people, then that should be pretty effective at completely eliminating spam from the skype network.

The other major feature I wish a skype front end had, is the ability to have video conference calls tiled, so that the multiple contacts were in a grid or something like that.
The other thing that is missing on Linux skype is a 2d or 3d sketch program of some sort so that you can have a shared sketch area. Since I work from home and use skype to communicate with my client in another city, this would be tremendously helpful for a lot of the conversations I have when talking about the project.

Re:So how does this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32678006)

I'm pretty sure their current Linux GUI *is* using Qt.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

dylan_- (1661) | more than 3 years ago | (#32679186)

* doesn't have on par FLOSS rivals (sorry, ekiga, no)

Why not Ekiga? What does Skype do that it doesn't? (Genuine question, I really don't know; I don't use either yet, but I thought I'd be using Ekiga).

Re:So how does this work? (4, Interesting)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671044)

Skype's problem is that developing a version of Skype that works on the various popular (and not so popular) versions of Linux is difficult. The Linux market is small enough, and fractured enough, that Skype would just as soon not even try. Unfortunately, Skype is concerned that, if left to its own devices, the Free Software community is large enough to build and popularize a Skype alternative that could compete with Skype. It has certainly done that sort of thing before.

So Skype is providing a SDK that would allow Open Source hackers the ability to build there own GUI front ends for Skype's service. This neatly solves the problem of creating a Linux client that works everywhere, as the preferred method for integrating software into a distribution in the Free Software world is to simply provide source. The idea is to get the Open Source hackers to work out the tricky bits like figuring out which API allows access to the web cam, and which API should be used for audio input/output. The folks working on the various distributions know how this is done, and Skype (apparently) does not.

This is a win for Skype because they get some help in creating Linux clients, and it is theoretically a win for the Open Source community as they get a working Skype client. This still leaves the Free Software guys, the ones that won't use Skype no matter how slick it is, because it is proprietary, to build their own competing service. Their initial reaction would probably be to leverage the work done by the Open Source guys. My guess is that Skype will try and make it so that the license on their SDK will not allow that. However, this is likely to be easier said than done, and that probably explains why the SDK has not actually been released yet. Skype is probably working on the proper license that will allow them to use the Free Software libraries that they need to use, while making it impossible for the Free Software guys to use software created to work with their SDK.

Re:So how does this work? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32671248)

Skype: "oh noes! the linux desktop market - how could we have overlooked that?!?! we must dominate that lucrative space without further ado"

Seriously, they don't give a stuff about two linux nerds talking to each other over Skype. Skype is about ubiquity. Windows is ubiquity. Apple is ubiquitous in some markets.

If next generation telephone networks can use Skype as a channel then Skype gets in on the action on you calling your bank or supermarket or council or doctors ....

You use Asterisk (and it's ilk) all day without even realising it because you are using a regular phone (maybe with a VOIP provider as a gateway who are themselves also using Asterisk).

How much more convenient if you can just use good ol' skype to call these guys directly from your skype client?

Re:So how does this work? (2, Interesting)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671470)

In order to be ubiquitous, you have to not have any big holes in coverage. By most sources I can find, the iOS market is currently smaller than the desktop GNU/Linux market, but Adobe was making a huge deal about iOS not supporting Flash.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672322)

smaller by what metric? number of devices in circulation? or number of new devices likely to be sold this year/next ten years? Business men only care about the latter i'm afraid.... Are you honestly surprised adobe were worried about iOS not supporting flash? (well let's be honest, adobe doesn't care, but their shareholders do..... )

Re:So how does this work? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672762)

I'm talking about current market share. Skype may be looking into the future for their plans, but they might see a different future than others, since analysts often make all kinds of crazy claims, and the "Year of the Linux Desktop" is not the craziest among them, so it may be a bet worth hedging to them. I'm not surprised that Adobe cares. Adobe needs Flash to penetrate every market with any degree of significance in order to maintain its utility, and so does Skype.

Re:So how does this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32672490)

You reckon the (average user) linux desktop market as a fraction of the total desktop market is bigger proportion that the iPhone is to the total smartphone market?

Now possibly (although I doubt it) that when you add in enterprise deployments of linux desktops you might swell numbers, but those guys will have proper desk phones so don't need some cheap-ass voice solution so they don't count.

This would not be "big hole". It's not even a small hole. I don't quite know the point at which the size of a hole precludes it from being really considered as a hole but this is about it.

Re:So how does this work? (3, Insightful)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671266)

This is a win for Skype because they get some help in creating Linux clients, and it is theoretically a win for the Open Source community as they get a working Skype client.

Skype already provides a working Linux client here [skype.com]. I have used it on both popular (Ubuntu) and not-as-popular (Gentoo and Arch) distributions and it works great.

The idea is to get the Open Source hackers to work out the tricky bits like figuring out which API allows access to the web cam, and which API should be used for audio input/output. The folks working on the various distributions know how this is done, and Skype (apparently) does not.

Skype's official client uses V4L2 for video (the only current video API) and ALSA for audio (the most popular audio API.) I'd say they have it figured out pretty well.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671410)

Skype already provides a working Linux client here.

For some definitions of "working", of course. Last time I tried to use it (Gentoo amd64), I ended up with an x86 Ubuntu inside VMware.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671438)

I've been running the 2.1 Beta 2 client from portage. I have yet to have a problem of any sort. I'm running it primarily on Gentoo AMD64. I've also used the deb package provided from the link in my previous post and have not had any problems to speak of there either.

Re:So how does this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32672568)

The 2.1 Beta 2 works for me on my netbook, but audio sputters and Skype crashes the moment I begin a call on my desktop. Other users have reported similar experiences. Previous versions worked fine, yet I can no longer down them from the Skype website.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 3 years ago | (#32674120)

Skype's official client uses V4L2 for video (the only current video API) and ALSA for audio (the most popular audio API.) I'd say they have it figured out pretty well.

Well... The latest version as of now is version 2.1.0.81 and refuses to "work" (read: I get crackling sound all the time with the microphone) with anything other than the dreaded Pulseaudio (the only selectable choice in the audio options is the Pulseaudio server). I did try to uninstall Pulseaudio to force it to use ALSA, but the result was even worse as far as recording is concerned — that is, unless you think it's fun to sound like a Goa'uld.

This is what I got under Ubuntu 10.04.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

berkus (1157141) | more than 3 years ago | (#32688298)

Problem here is Ubuntu's patching of ALSA configs to use pulseaudio. If you uninstall pulseaudio, ALSA's device configuration breaks up and you will have all sorts of problems. Just use PulseAudio on recent Ubuntus and come to skype linux forums for more help.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

capnchicken (664317) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671536)

I wonder if this opens the door to WebOS, which is basically a Linux stack once you've konami'd it. I've been patiently waiting for a WebOS (Read: Palm Pre) Skype app for awhile.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672386)

It might. Skype voice-only has been available on the N900 since it was released. The latest update, earlier this month, added video chat using the front-facing camera and conference calling.

Skype Voice-Out does not work fully on N900 (1)

KWTm (808824) | more than 3 years ago | (#32673406)

Skype voice-only has been available on the N900 since it was released.

I have not been able to call ordinary phones (POST) using Skype, on my N900.

Yes, I am paying for the Skype-Out service (monthly subscription). I can dial ordinary phones from the Skype client on my Kubuntu 10.04 laptop, but not my N900. The fact that my N900 Skype client says that my destination number "is invalid" (because it should be the name of a Skype account) is disappointing, to say the least. (Although it's only one in a long list of disappointing things about the N900.)

Re:Skype Voice-Out does not work fully on N900 (1)

dovf (811000) | more than 3 years ago | (#32675406)

I've use Skype-Out on the N900 all the time without any problem. You may need to add the international prefix in order for it to work (starting with a + ). If you still have problems, head over to http://talk.maemo.org/ [maemo.org] .

Re:Skype Voice-Out does not work fully on N900 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677448)

Put a plus (+) in front of the number for Skype calls. I've used SkypeOut for months and it works fine.

Please don't spread FUD.

Re:So how does this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32672436)

The SDK doesn't use any Free Software libraries but it is incompatible with Free Software. The license specifically forbids any of the SDK being in any open-source code

Re:So how does this work? (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671252)

Remember: Skype is owned by eBay. Once the WTF!?! wears off, you'll remember what they did with paypal and eBay itself: Attract users with price, convenience, and functionality, lock them in, and jack up the fees.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672430)

Yeah, last time i used e-bay i had to pay some guy £50 to buy a camera lens off him! The cheek! I even had to pay the royal mail to deliver it. Jesus, is nothing free anymore? You know what really takes the biscuit?!? Last time i spoke to my fiancée on skype, apparently I've got to pay for the wedding now! I hate e-bays model of making me pay for things - it sucks! Too right about lock in! If it wasn't for e-bay, I wouldn't be engaged! ( ..... actually that last bit, that's not actually true!)

Re:So how does this work? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678336)

Too right about lock in! If it wasn't for e-bay, I wouldn't be engaged!

It could be worse, so just be thankful for Cotton-Eyed Joe.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

XCondE (615309) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671412)

I'm assuming that Skype plans on making money off of this somehow, so how are they doing that?

When you buy SkypeOut credit you can call "normal" (land lines, cellular) phones from skype. It's dirt cheap to call the UK from Australia, for instance.

Needing a computer to make skype calls limits your use and so making skype more ubiquitous is obviously one of their strategies. Just look at all skype USB handsets on the market. Look at the inclusion of Skype on the Nokia N900 (which works over your mobile data plan btw, not only wifi).

I'd make a guess that this SDK will make its way to other mobile devices sooner rather than later. The easier it is to come across skype the more likely it is that some day you will use it to make SkypeOut calls or perhaps get SkypeIn numbers.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671762)

When you buy SkypeOut credit you can call "normal" (land lines, cellular) phones from skype. It's dirt cheap to call the UK from Australia, for instance.

The from is irrelevant - from is always the Internet, it's the to that matters. Skype charges 1.4p/minute for calls to Australia. That's slightly cheaper than the SIP provider that I use (charges 1.8p/minute), but they're based in Germany, so they're not the cheapest for calls to Australia. A quick look found me one SIP provider that charges AU$0.10 (about 6p) per call, unlimited duration, another that charges under 1p/minute. Of course, because SIP is an open standard, a single client can communicate with multiple POTS bridges, so you can use one provider for short calls and one for longer ones.

And, because SIP is an open standard, it is supported by a number of clients. For example, my (quite old now) Nokia phone came with a built-in SIP client, so when I'm near a WiFi signal I can route calls over that instead of via the cellular network.

The only reason that Skype has any users is that they made an idiot-friendly Windows client. Configuring a SIP client requires you to be able to enter some numbers into a dialog box, while configuring Skype does not require even that. It's not the cheapest solution and it's not the best. It is often the easiest, however.

Re:So how does this work? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#32674484)

Are they hoping for people to use Skype technologies everywhere, so that more people will start paying Skype for the commercial/paid offerings they have?

Yeah, that's it in a nutshell. Skype makes their money from SkypeOut, and the more widely Skype is used, the more people will pay them for the convenience of calling land-line and cell phones from Skype.

-jcr

How is this open? (4, Interesting)

jopsen (885607) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670888)

From the faq:

Is SkypeKit ‘open’? What will you restrict?
The topic of openness is often debated and its definition can mean different things to different people. For starters, we believe in an open Internet and open standards. We are adopting an open approach meaning we are releasing APIs and enabling others to use SkypeKit and apply it in new ways. But, SkypeKit won’t be opened up to every single use case that developers dream up. For example, our license terms prohibit using SkypeKit for gambling or adult-themed applications.

Think of SkypeKit as a "headless" version of Skype – that is, a Skype client with no user interface that runs invisibly.

How is this even remotely close to open ? As far as I can see it's still just a binary blob!

Re:How is this open? (5, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670970)

Well you see, the definition of open can mean different things to different people. To you it means open, to skype it means avoiding the question.

Re:How is this open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32671098)

Well you see, the definition of open can mean different things to different people. To you it means open, to skype it means avoiding the question.

Mods on crack! This is damn right -- just like the Windows SDK is "open".

Re:How is this open? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672040)

Its open for you to spread the brand by installing the tech into products that would have a small user base but could provide a wider userbase over time.
If any person makes a real $ call, its a win.
The codec is a known and your doing code work and testing.

Screen Sharing (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 3 years ago | (#32670950)

I'd really like to see this result in Linux support for screen sharing. It works great on Mac and Windows, but the Linux Skype client is quite old and they don't seem to have much interest in developing for Linux besides making sure the packages can still install.

Adult and gambling (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671042)

So they don't want a porn webcam client built on Skype? I get that. Maybe that scared them from fully opening the client. But community development is beneficial.

But in the end, they own the Skype trademark. No one could call their client a Skype client without their permission. Just like Mozilla is protective of non-standard builds being labeled as Firefox.

Screw Skype.. (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671130)

Why does anyone use a proprietary system like Skype, when open standards such as SIP and Jingle (used by google talk) exist? Isn't skype just another closed system to get locked into?

Re:Screw Skype.. (3, Insightful)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671314)

Everybody use it because everybody else use it, because it's so incredibly easy to get started with and most of them don't even know what the word "proprietary" means.

Re:Screw Skype.. (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 3 years ago | (#32674480)

Everybody use it because everybody else use it, because it's so incredibly easy to get started with and most of them don't even know what the word "proprietary" means.

The flip side is that open source developers seem to be incapable of building up a community and connecting to people who "don't even know what the word "proprietary" means". See XMPP, SIP, GPG, ...

Re:Screw Skype.. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671390)

i like the skype out service for cheap VOIP>PTSN over my existing internet connection,

Re:Screw Skype.. (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671792)

As I said in another post, Skype is not cheaper than SIP providers. For any of the destinations that you might want to call, you'll be able to find a SIP provider that is cheaper. If you pick a SIP provider at random, it will be cheaper than Skype for some destinations, more expensive for others. If you shop around, you can find one that's cheaper for each of the destinations that you want. And, because SIP is an open protocol, you can usually configure a single client to interact with multiple providers, picking the cheapest one for each destination.

Re:Screw Skype.. (1)

jubei (89485) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672834)

Skype offers unlimited calling to the US & Canada for $2.99 a month. Are there any SIP providers that match that?

Re:Screw Skype.. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32675204)

I don't know. I make under a minute's worth of calls to the USA and Canada combined per year, so it's completely irrelevant to me. I didn't look more than briefly, but I found one company that offered free calls, up to 5 minutes in duration each, to US and Canada. Not sure about longer calls, but you can probably find someone giving a better deal if you look.

Re:Screw Skype.. (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#32676974)

Voipraider (www.voipraider.com) offer free calls to several destinations including the US and Canada if you top up GBP10 of credit every 3 months... You still have the GBP10 of credit to use calling other numbers, or after the 3 months when your free calls expire you can use it to make chargeable calls to your destinations until the credit runs out (so i usually last 4-5 months before i need to buy more credit)...
There are a whole bunch of other providers you can choose from, you can shop around - thats the beauty of open standards - they allow competition to take place.

Re:Screw Skype.. (2, Interesting)

jps25 (1286898) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671414)

Because there's no alternative to videocalls between OS X / Linux / Windows.

Re:Screw Skype.. (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671694)

People use Skype because it just plain works and is multiplatform. And free as in beer. And it can do calls to the legacy phone network if you want to.

Re:Screw Skype.. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672278)

You're mixing protocols, libraries and applications.

And Skype's echo cancellation works perfectly, or close to it. Even with a crappy laptop with built-in mic and speakers. Nothing open source works on SIP channels (unless you offload to expensive hardware, but then, that's not really open source).

Re:Screw Skype.. (1)

Again (1351325) | more than 3 years ago | (#32673102)

Why does anyone use a proprietary system like Skype, when open standards such as SIP and Jingle (used by google talk) exist? Isn't skype just another closed system to get locked into?

I have a pretty slow internet connection and audio quality is quite a bit better on Skype then on Google Talk. I hate the Linux Skype client as it crashes very frequently (pretty much every second time I click on the start my video button) and it hogs memory so I will only open when it is time to make a call. Skype releasing an "open" sdk raises my hopes of having a nice Skype client that won't crash and that I can permanently leave open on my computer.

Re:Screw Skype.. (1)

corinroyal (526083) | more than 3 years ago | (#32673554)

My mom uses Skype to video chat with my aunt in Ecuador, and I'd really like to get her an open source/open protocol alternative. I have my own Linode VPS I could use for SIP, Jingle, or XMPP server, but I don't know a) what server b) what cross platform win/linux/mac clients are skype equivalents in ease of use and video quality. Can someone recommend the awesomest open source Skype alternative? I'd have thought video chat would be built into pidgin and empathy by now, and on every Ubuntu desktop. Also, where are y'all finding these awesome cheap SIP providers?

Getting out in front of FaceTime? (3, Funny)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671242)

I see this as Skype acknowledging that FaceTime [apple.com] will change everything once it's opened up (as Apple claims they will do).

Skype can win if it's ubiquitous (ie, de-facto standard) even if FaceTime is really open where it appears not to be.

Re:Getting out in front of FaceTime? (1, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671706)

Yes, of course, Apple changes the world once again with their innovative technology *yawn*. Did it ever occur to you not everyone owns Apple hardware, or that people may be using their PCs to do video calls while they can do work at the same time?

Re:Getting out in front of FaceTime? (4, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671788)

Supposedly, FaceTime is going to be an open standard, so it could become more widely implemented, and thus pose a threat to Skype.

Re:Getting out in front of FaceTime? (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672598)

Open standard it may be(come), but I'd rather take a working standard (albeit proprietary) which works today, and lets me chat to my colleagues on the other side of the atlantic (and has time and again proved that it works for that purpose for the past 5+ years or so). Where i work skype is as much of an essential coding tool as visual C++, gcc or gdb is. Programmers *know better* than to believe hype about 'what may become' or 'what might be'. So until we have: an open standard for FaceTime; have clients that provide more than the skype client; and we have found that skype is no longer not fit for purpose; we wont be changing anytime soon. Until that time, skype has served our purpose for years, we've built our company practices around it, so why change?

Re:Getting out in front of FaceTime? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#32673036)

The biggest advantage that FaceTime seems to have is that it's an 'open standard', although how open it is has yet to be seen. By making at least parts of Skype open or sort of open, they can fight FaceTime before it gets any momentum and maybe get a bit more proliferation in the process.

Re:Getting out in front of FaceTime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32674358)

Dude, facetime is IMS (the calls part of 4G) which is just SIP plus some patented codecs. Specs are already out there, no need to open anything. In any case 4G will not be possible to implement as free software because it uses AMR, AAC and H.264.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32671610)

Interesting that they release the Linux SDK first. Probably what the dev's use. Bad news for Ballmer.

There is already SIP (0)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671688)

There is already SIP and H323 which are standard protocols implemented by all major VoIP and videoconference sellers and providers.

Why would you want to use a limited and broken protocol only implemented by one company, and which specifications aren't even published?

Re: Because Nobody cares about SIP (3, Insightful)

xiando (770382) | more than 3 years ago | (#32674270)

Why would you want to use a limited and broken protocol only implemented by one company, and which specifications aren't even published?

I use SIP and my mother uses SIP because I gave her a pre-configured hardware SIP phone and even plugged it in for her. Everyone else wants me to install Skype NOW. That's why you would want to implement the broken protocol.

Nobody but my mother calls me using SIP, even though SIP:*8967100@sip.kristinehamnk1.com is published numerous places on the Internets (don't need the after @ part if you abuse SipBroker), everyone wants me to start using Facebook & install Skype. That's what the world has come to. You don't need SIP to talk to yourself and that's about all you can do with it, if you have friends then you'll find they all use Facebook and Skype and other evil.

Mac or not Mac (1)

Verunks (1000826) | more than 3 years ago | (#32671696)

SkypeKit beta is only available for Linux on an invite-only basis, with Windows and Mac versions planned in coming weeks. The SDK does not cover Android or Mac

Re:Mac or not Mac (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672056)

Macs have the app, ipads and iphones might still be a bit closed or Skype wants the video call fun on the iphone too :)

Ignoring the 10,000lb Gorilla in the Room (1)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672086)

I think Skype's sudden rush to get some sort of functional API and relevance that Linux users/programmers can use to be honest is interesting but to little to late. Yes there is a huge 10,000lb gorilla in the room called Google and just recently they (google) have opened access to the general public (USA only right now but there are hacks to get around that). Were Google has got it right is not so much the integration of different services like mobiles and home/work telephones is the fact they have gone with a open industry standard protocol called SIP. That means I can use my (in my case Ericsson 6755i desktop SIP phone) with Google Voice and my normal SIP service without having to worry about some SIP->Skype stuffing around. I think we are seeing the dieing days of a great idea in its day but has now become over shadowed by a more competitive (as in cheaper), open and disruptive technology called SIP. One thing I must admit though is no one has created a PC based SIP client yet with as much functionality as Skype's but I can see those days being numbered (Skype under 64 bit Linux I must admit is a pain right now especially for video calls).

GPL Incompatible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32672108)

The SDK as it currently stands is completely open-source incompatible. The 'API' libraries (C++ and python wrappers) to the headless client are completely propriety and need to be rewritten and the license terms specifically state that no Skype-provided source code may be used in your open source project

No Mystery About Lack of Mobile Support (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32672742)

Anybody who's tried to find Skype for an Android phone could clear that up. There used be an official Skype client for Android, but it's been withdrawn "in order to improve the mobile experience". Translation: if you want Skype on any mobile platform other than iPhone, you have to switch to Verizon [skype.com]. Hard to enforce if there's an Android SDK.

Skype channel driver for Asterisk? (1)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 3 years ago | (#32673384)

There is currently a proprietary Skype channel driver for Asterisk [skype.com] that you can buy and bolt onto your Asterisk server to make Skype calls. Does the availability of this new SDK mean that it will now be trivial for someone to build such a module and release it (minus the "Open SDK" of course) as open source?

NOT free software, Skype go fsck yourself (1)

xiando (770382) | more than 3 years ago | (#32674178)

The Skype corporation are NOT about to let us have free GNU/Linux software withing with Skype. Their inherantly evil website states that:

What are the fees for using SkypeKit? To get started, we will charge a nominal membership fee -- less than $20 US -- for access to the program and SkypeKit. Once a third-party product is ready for commercialization, there is an add-on fee for user experience and audio/video testing and certification, which we require to make sure products are ready and qualified for our plugged into Skype descriptor that is awarded to approved products.

They might as well have not released it for GNU/Linux at all. I am not about to install some binary blob application based on SkypeShit and pay $20 for (ab)using it. btw, SIP ftw.

Pidgin (1)

misfit815 (875442) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678028)

I'm still waiting for the day I can hook to even the most basic Skype interface using Pidgin. All of my contacts use Yahoo!, MSN, or GTalk - except one. And he swears by Skype. Consequently, I don't ever communicate with him online (even though he's a close relative), because I don't want that xxxx installed on any box I use.

what with IM clients? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32683290)

Would this mean that IM clients like pidgin and empathy now could implement a skype chat next to the other chats? this would definatly be a win to have it all in one app.

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