Skype is a voice telephony application that uses a unique peer-to-peer network model to enable a global VoIP network. While proprietary, Skype does provide an API that allows Windows developers to link their applications to the Skype client software. The Skype network allows inbound and outbound PSTN calling, too. Skype has minimized sound latency exceptionally welleven over the Internet, and all calls use encrypted media channels, so nobody can listen in on you.
Skype has been downloaded millions of times, and its network is regularly used by a million to two million users simultaneously . Features of its UI are similar to instant messaging apps: a buddy list, an availability indicator, and a searchable user directory. Aside from Windows, Skype supports Mac OS X, Linux, and PocketPC. Skype also offers a hardphone manufactured by Siemens. You can obtain Skype from http://www.skype.net.
16.2.1. Skype Web Links
When you install Skype, the callto: URI prefix is enabled on your web browser. This means that, whenever you click a callto: link on a web site, your Skype client will attempt to place a voice call to the user referenced in the link. In the same way, you could add a link to your web site that allows Skype users to call your Skype client from their web browsers:
<a href="callto:// SkypeUserName ">Skype Me</a>
16.2.2. Conference Calls
Like other IM clients with voice calling features, Skype permits basic conference calling. Using the Conference button on Skype's toolbar, you can start a conference with up to five participants , who can use a mixture of Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X versions of the program.
16.2.3. Skype Handset
Aside from a basic headset, Skypers can use a USB handset that resembles a standard telephone. It has a dial-pad, microphone, and speaker and is powered by the USB bus. You can use it to answer incoming calls without having to bring the Skype interface up on your screen. If you do a lot of Skype calling, this handset can be a time-saver.
Also available are corded handsets, like the VoIPVoice Cyberphone K, available at http://www.skype.voipvoice.com. There are also cordless USB handsets, like the VTech USB7100, available at http://www.vtech.com/phones.
16.2.4. Other Softphones to Check Out
Try Googling these other softphones and messaging apps: GnoPhone, EyeP Phone Lite, KPhone, LinPhone, and BonePhone.