Skype is bidding for wider proliferation and usage of its free VOIP service by releasing a video-call API available to developers as part of its SkypeKit collection of programmer software. The company initially opened up SkypeKit earlier this summer with the intention of promoting Skype to the consumer electronics industry; this somewhat niche move was met by wider calls from all developers who simply wanted to allow for the development of desktop applications with integrated Skype functionality.
This new API can be custom-modified and subsequently inserted into desktop applications as well as consumer electronics apps. With the release of the Developer Preview of SkypeKit 4.02, Skype's developer team says it is now beginning to extend its developer initiative to include desktop applications. With this in mind, the team says that there are now two ways for developers to integrate Skype into their Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop applications:
- SkypeKit for Desktop, which is intended to add native Skype functionality directly into partner applications
- Skype Desktop API, previously known as the Skype API or Public API, which allows developers to extend the functionality of Skype for Windows, Skype for Mac, and Skype for Linux
Now under the post-acquisition arm of Microsoft, the Skype team has gone on the record to say that central to its efforts to bring Skype's functionality to desktop applications is the introduction of Video APIs to the new SkypeKit for Desktop. The intention is that these Video APIs will allow developers to bring desktop applications to life using video calling, or as Skype puts it, "making their applications feel less isolated and more human."
Speaking to tech news website SD Times, Chris Andrews, group program manager for the Skype developer program said, "Skype released its first public API in 2004. The biggest request was for a so-called 'headless version' of Skype that was all the functionality of the application without the user interface. That was available through SkypeKit in June 2010. Now, we've added a video API so developers can embed Skype video into their Mac, Windows, and Linux desktop applications."
As part of its focus on the desktop, Skype has also built a new Skype App Directory that provides developers with a proper distribution channel for the Skype-enabled apps they are building. This App Directory will serve as the central place where Skype users around the world can find free or commercial apps built on top of Skype.