Skype 2.8 for Mac will ship on Tuesday, with new features including screen sharing and an integrated Wi-Fi hot spot connector.
Available only for Mac OS X at first, the new version will add screen-sharing capabilities to the app's voice, video, and chat communications features. Skype spokespeople told me that users will be able to run all four channels at once with acceptable performance.
Screen sharing is useful in business settings (I get a lot of demos over apps like Webex, for example), but it has personal applications as well: People could share photographs, and presumably videos as well, using the feature.
Skype is also getting a feature that will allow users to access WiFi hotspots on the Boingo network for 19 cents a minute. The funds will be deducted from users' Skype accounts. Boingo has about 85,000 hot spots worldwide, a Boingo rep told me. TMobile, the primary Wi-Fi provider at U.S. airports, is on the Boingo network.
The Wi-Fi access feature makes Skype a more useful product for people who use the VoIP app from their Mac laptops, and the per-minute payment scheme makes sense for highly mobile users for whom buying access by the hour or month would leave a lot of unused credits behind.
Skype co-founder Nicklas Zennstrom also started a Wi-Fi network called Fon, but Skype 2.8 doesn't yet integrate with that system.
Disruptive Telephony covered other new features in Skype 2.8, including a new way to update your Skype "mood" and to follow users in a Twitter-like fashion, bigger Avatar images, and a new way to manage and prioritize chat windows.
Also, regarding Boingo: That company announced a new Apple product: A connector app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. For $7.95 a month, users of those devices can access the entire Boingo Wi-Fi network. For U.S.-based iPhone users on the AT&T network, this is not such a great product since AT&T-provided Wi-Fi is now free for them, but international users and travelers, and iPod Touch users (perhaps those who use TruPhone for VOIP calls) may find it a good deal.