Microsoft Brings Free Skype Group Video Calling to Samsung Smart TVs

A new update enables owners of select Samsung televisions to conduct free, wide-angle video calls with multiple Skype users.


Microsoft announced on Jan. 16 Skype 4.0 on TV, an update for 2014 Samsung Smart TVs that enables three-party video calls and borrows one of the Xbox One's features.

"Today we're excited to announce Skype 4.0 on TV, allowing you to enjoy a free group video call on your 2014 Samsung Smart TV with built-in camera," said Tom Huang, a Microsoft product marketing manager, in a Jan. 16 blog post. Like in the Xbox One implementation, the app allows for a wider view of the action. No longer are users required to huddle around a Webcam.

"The entire group can see and talk to each other naturally and comfortably—just like you're all together in the same living room," Huang said. "With the newly added full HD (1080p) support, one-to-one video calls are also crisper than ever, allowing you and your friends to have a real-time conversation about a TV show, sports game or movie." Video calls can consist of up to three Skype users.

The app is part of a firmware update for 2014 Samsung Smart TVs with built-in cameras. Owners who have connected their sets to the Internet will receive a notification that an update is available. (A step-by-step guide is available in a separate Skype Blog post.)

To get the most out of Skype's high-resolution video calling features, participants will need to make sure that their tech and Internet connections are up to the task.

"For 1080p video calls, all users must have compatible HD displays, web cams, the latest version of Skype and sustained internet connection of 1 Mbps symmetrical bandwidth or higher," Huang said. "For group video calling, minimum download / upload speed is 512kbps / 128kbps and we recommend 2Mbps / 512kbps or higher."

Meanwhile, iPhone users are being treated to a new interface that allows users to start a call or chat with fewer hoops to jump through.

In a Jan. 14 blog post, Lara Kingwell, a Skype product marketing manager, announced the release of Skype 5.9 for iPhone (iOS 7 and up). The updated app includes "UI improvements to both the dial pad and new chat picker so you can start chatting with your friends and family more quickly and easily than ever."

The dial pad now suggests contacts with matching phone numbers as users input a phone number, akin to the time-saving auto-complete functionality found in search engines and other applications. "We've also updated the new chat picker to make starting conversations easier," added Kingwell. "Once you've chosen who you want to talk to, tap the phone or video icon at the top to start your call."

Microsoft is also soliciting feedback from Skype users to help with the development of future Apple iOS products with a pre-release program. Members will get to test early versions of upcoming iOS Skype clients and submit feedback and suggestions.

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...