New Firefox gets social, brings beta Marketplace to desktop

Mozilla has released Firefox 35, which brings with it the enhancements to the Firefox Hello video-calling feature that I wrote about when they were in beta.

Firefox 35 also introduces a social sharing feature, making it easy to post a link to a webpage to a service such as [company]Facebook[/company] or [company]Twitter[/company], or to email it to a contact. This is similar to what Opera has been doing recently, and it’s interesting to see how the big Chrome rivals (let’s leave Internet Explorer out of it for now) are adding more features in a way that doesn’t necessarily make them look bloated in comparison to [company]Google[/company]’s streamlined browser.

Here’s how the right side of my Firefox toolbar looks now – there’s a good deal of functionality in there (the 1Password icon is the only third-party one) but it’s still tasteful and unobtrusive, at least to my eyes:

Firefox toolbar

To quickly recap the new Firefox Hello features, it’s now easier to set up an ad-hoc, anonymous call and to create a URL for such a call that can be repeatedly revisited by the participants – making it a bit like a virtual meeting room.

In a Tuesday blog post, Mozilla also said that it and its telco partner, Telefonica, aim to add new features to the WebRTC-based Firefox Hello such as screen-sharing and online collaboration – all from within the browser.

A more general blog post about Firefox 35 also noted that the Firefox Marketplace is now available for beta testing on the desktop. Firefox already has an add-on search facility, of course, but this is more like the Chrome Web Store, featuring a range of web apps.

The Firefox Marketplace is already available on mobile, and indeed it is effectively the app store for those with Firefox OS phones – the apps are all HTML5. So, by bringing it to the desktop, Mozilla is bringing its mobile and desktop efforts closer together.

Skype sets group video calling free on desktops, Xbox One

Skype(s msft) group video calling will be free on desktop computers and the Xbox One, said Microsoft in a blog post MondayPreviously, the feature was included as part of Skype Premium, a subscription plan costing $8.99 per month. According to Skype marketing manager Phillip Snalune, “in the future, we’ll be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms – at no cost.” Hopefully, those platforms include Skype’s mobile apps on iOS(s aapl), Android(s goog), and Windows Phone.

Skype 3.0 for Android: It’s better, but still needs work

Skype 3.0 for Android is here, boasting improved audio quality thanks to Skype’s own SILK codec. After testing the new client on both Android phones and tablets, I can hear a bit of a difference, but some key flaws remain for video calls.

Ring, ring: Skype for Windows Phone 8 now calling!

A preview version of Skype for Windows Phone 8 is available for those with new Microsoft-powered handsets. Although the app isn’t finalized, it offers a solid set of features such as People hub integration, calls in the background and presence in the contact list.

Skype for Windows 8 app arrives this week, part of People hub

When Microsoft’s Windows 8 debuts later this week, one of the most popular voice and video calling apps will be available. That makes sense, as Microsoft bought Skype last year, but making even more sense is Skype integration with the Windows 8 / RT People hub.

Here’s why tablets (yes, tablets!) will replace the smartphone

With the Nexus 7 receiving good reviews, people are starting to enjoy the portability and immersive experience that small tablets offer over smartphones. Looking at the mobile trends, I can see how the tablet will replace the smartphone. And it may happen sooner than you think.

With 45M total users, Tango raises another $40M

Video chat startup Tango has raised another big round of funding, bringing in $40 million in Series C financing led by Qualcomm Ventures and Access Industries. That comes on the heels of impressive growth, with more than 45 million users signed up in just 18 months.

Wah! Wah! Mommy, Skype won’t play with me

European Union’s decision to approve the Microsoft & Skype merger without any objection isn’t sitting well with Cisco, the unified communications giant who is worried that Microsoft will use Skype to dominate the video calling industry. Sour grapes for a company caught in it own business-model.