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Skype includes photo, video sharing to its Android App

Service update for Android devices brings free services from Skype

VoIP giant Skype announced the latest version of its service for Google Android devices, the Skype 2.6 for Android, which enables users to send photos and videos to contacts from Skype on an Android smartphone. The free service works over WiFi or 3G on a mobile data plan.

Skype also improved battery life and video quality with Skype 2.6 for Android on phones using Nvidia's Tegra 2 chipset, which include the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Motorola Xoom and Acer Iconia Tablet.

"We are also working very hard to extend the list of whitelisted devices for video support. These handsets have been tested by Skype's Engineering Team to ensure the best possible video experience. Newest additions include the HTC Amaze 4G and Motorola Droid Razr," said Skype Senior Product Manager Dan Chastney. "In general, almost anyone with an Android device running Android 2.2 (Froyo version) or above can try out Skype video calling for free. We will let you know if you can turn on video calling when you first start up Skype on a non-whitelisted handset."

On the Android Market site, Google said that due to Android limitations, devices running Android 2.2 will only be able to use the rear-facing camera, though devices with Android 2.3 or higher will be enabled to use both front- and rear-facing cameras.

Skype continues to emphasize video calling capabilities via Web interfaces and mobile devices as more capable handsets, such as the Apple iPhone 4S, hit the consumer market. Having been merged into Microsoft, Skype is now making plans with new Facebook integration and some new features for its Mac and Windows versions.

The newest versions of Skype for Mac and Windows now have the ability to conduct Facebook-to-Facebook calls from within Skype. Starting such a call involves connecting the user's Skype and Facebook accounts, then choosing a Facebook friend with whom to chat. Skype is also enhancing the video-rendering capabilities of Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac, and has added to Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows a group screen-sharing capability for any Windows users with a paid subscription.

Microsoft purchased Skype for US$8.5 billion earlier this 2011, turning the VoIP provider into a business division headed by Skype CEO Tony Bates. Microsoft executives have repeatedly said their intention to tightly integrate Skype's assets with Microsoft products, ranging from Xbox Kinect to Windows Phone, although support for "non-Microsoft client platforms" such as the Mac will apparently continue for the period.