Facebook, it seems, has become the official spokesperson of the internet, or the symbol of the World Wide Web (at least for Americans, anyway). In the daily newspaper, the logo is seen printed with almost every ad. On television, they're spotted on TV commercials along with a link to the advertiser's Facebook page. A good number of websites require a Facebook login, and even chat clients like the recently upgraded AIM (which has thoroughly pissed off recent and long-time users) offers Facebook chat connectivity.
Skype is just as guilty. It integrated Facebook features into the Windows and Mac client some time ago adding items like news feeds, instant messaging and status updating. And back in July, actual Facebook video calling -- powered by Skype -- was launched on the social network. The feature isn't exactly out in the open like all the other links lined up and down the Facebook page, but rather appears as a small video camera in the chat window of a Facebook friend when they're online.
But web surfers who use both Facebook and Skype can now conduct Facebook to Facebook video chat right within the latest Skype beta client for Mac (5.4) and Windows PC (5.7). Users simply double-click on the Facebook user listed in Skype and select the new "Video Call" button within the pop-up IM window -- the friend receives the video call request directly in Facebook. If video is not supported, then the Facebook friend's window will only feature the typical "Call Phone" or "Call Mobile" number. Both video and normal Facebook calls can be placed directly from the news feed in the Skype Home window as well.
"This new feature lets you maintain social connections with your Facebook friends and compliments previously announced features such as being able to see when your Facebook friends are online, read their status updates and IM them all from Skype," the company said in a blog.
In addition to the Facebook video calling feature, the new Skype beta includes video rendering for a smoother video experience for Mac users, and group screen sharing for Windows users with a Premium subscription -- this latter feature is already available for Mac users. Those who are chatting it up one-on-one will also be able to screen share with live video streaming. Unfortunately, Skype still has problems maintaining a constant connection to Facebook's chat server, leaving users staring at the circling "connecting" symbol.
Skype is just one client of many that will connect with Facebook and allow users to chat with their Facebook friends without the need for logging onto the social network in the browser. Has Facebook become the America Online of the new millennium?