Microsoft Announces Beta Availability of Skype for Salesforce

Now Salesforce customers can use Skype for Business video and audio calling features without leaving their browsers.

Microsoft, Salesforce, Skype for Business

Both the partnership that Microsoft struck with Salesforce and the company's Skype for Business App SDK are paying off this week for the Redmond, Wash., software giant.

The company announced the beta availability of its new Skype for Salesforce integration on Sept. 29. "Skype for Salesforce surfaces the capabilities of Skype for Business Online directly within Salesforce to give sellers the ability to communicate in real time with colleagues straight from the Salesforce Lightning Experience," wrote the Microsoft Skype for Business team in a blog post.

Salesforce introduced Lightning Experience, a complete interface redesign, in August 2015. First available on Salesforce Sales Cloud, the streamlined and customizable interface makes it easier for developers to create apps for the platform.

"Simply hover your mouse over a name in the activity timeline, a record or a list and you can immediately see whether a co-worker is online and available," they continued. "The ability to see a person's status, within the context of a CRM activity, allows you to choose the most effective form of communication."

Brief instructions on how to enable the new functionality are available in this Salesforce online document. To switch on the feature, customers need a Salesforce Enterprise or Unlimited Edition subscription along with a Skype for Business Online account, the latter of which is included in many Office 365 plans (Business Essentials, Business Premium and Enterprise E1, E3 and E5).

Currently, Skype for Salesforce works best on Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari, which support audio and video calls. Text chats can be conducted on any browser. Chrome and Firefox support is in the works, said Microsoft.

On the consumer side of the fence, the company unveiled a handful of enhancements available in the latest version of Skype for iOS (6.25).

iPhone and iPad users who have upgraded to iOS 10 or are using the new iPhone 7 can now have Siri, Apple's virtual assistant, ring up their Skype contacts. "We're also extending this SiriKit functionality to our Skype for Business iOS apps in October, giving business users the same easy access using Siri commands," said Microsoft in a Sept. 28 announcement. SiriKit, introduced in iOS 10, enables developers to create apps that use Siri for voice control.

Skype for iOS 6.25 also blurs the line between Skype contacts and the iPhone address book by allowing the former to be stored directly on the phone. Now users can make Skype video or audio calls, or fire off a Skype IM, without navigating to the app first.

Incoming Skype calls now show up like regular calls, courtesy of another new iOS 10 framework, CallKit. "This will make it easy to switch between or answer Skype and regular calls using the built-in iOS functionality you are already used to," Microsoft asserted. Like the new SiriKit functionality, Microsoft intends to add CallKit support to the Skype for Business iOS apps sometime in October.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...