The first thing we noticed after downloading Skype’s 3.0 beta version for Windows (onto our single dusty GigaTeam PC) is that the company did some serious UI feng shui, or “spring cleaning” as this Skype designer describes it. The company created four tabs — Contacts, Live, Call Phones and History — that make navigating the service a lot easier, and shows off features that were pretty hard to find before. Skype had been adding a lot of new functions over the past year — now people can actually find them.
The 3.0 version also adds a lot of social aspects. The “Live” tab incorporates all of the Skypecasts now, and when we tested out the service we’d never seen so many people Skypecasting, though, it is the day of the release. The company also added a Public Chat feature where users can text in an open forum. We joined The Skype English Blog Chat (like every other curious Skypers seem to have done today) and followed chatter about Skype’s office kitten named Marvin.
Probably the most interesting feature is the plug-ins for Firefox and IE that turns phone numbers on web sites into Skype buttons where users can click-to-call. You can turn off the extension if you want by clicking on the icon in the tool bar. This will be really helpful for stimulating click-to-call ecommerce, and must have been on the level of what eBay had in mind when they purchased the company.
There’s a bunch of other features like an Extras section that shows off additional applications you can use like Pando. We previously pointed out how Skype doesn’t always help out its third party developers, but this could go a long way to giving small applications more prominence.