What Is Skype & What Is it Used For?

By Shannon Keen

Skype is a computer software application that was developed in the early 2000s and released by a company of the same name. It enables its users to make voice calls, chat, message and video conference over the Internet. Skype can be used on a variety of formats, and certain versions of the software have been made available for free. The more expensive versions offer a greater number of features to offset the increased cost.


Skype has several available calling features, some of which are free. Skype-to-Skype calling, or voice calls made using Skype between two Skype users, is a free feature of the software. Skype also allows users to make calls to traditional phones that include land lines and mobile phones. This feature, however, is only available with a paid Skype account. Paid users can also use Skype to make conference calls, making it a useful business application for meetings. If all parties involved have Skype, conference calls can be made for free.


In addition to voice calls, Skype offers a number of video communication options as well. Video calls between Skype users is a free feature that lets users see one another and have conversations face-to-face. Group video calling is also possible, as long as one or more of the callers has a paid Skype Premium account. Skype also allows users to screen-share, or show the person they're calling what is currently on their desktop. This lets users share personal photos or professional presentations without the delay of email.


Skype has several messaging features available as well. These include instant messaging, file sharing, text messaging to mobile phones and the Facebook News Feed. The instant messaging feature lets users message anyone on Skype for free and allows multiple people to be added to the same chat. File sharing allows files of any size to be sent between users quickly and efficiently without the use of email. Users can follow and comment on their friends' Facebook statuses and updates using the Facebook News Feed.


Skype is available for use through a wide range of formats. Any computer with a Windows, Macintosh or Linux operating system installed is compatible with Skype's computer software. Skype can also be used on a mobile phone. Android, iPhone and Symbian phones all support the Skype application, as do some other phones. Finally, Skype can be used on certain television systems as well. Both Panasonic and Samsung produce and market high-definition Skype-enabled televisions.

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