If you use the Skype internet phone service, you know that it's a very useful tool for easy communication that can save you considerable sums of money on your phone bill compared to 'normal' phone services. The example I posted in January, where I commented on the astonishingly-low cost of a 35-minute conference call, is as valid today as it was then.
I still have my regular phone - one thing you can't yet do with Skype is make an emergency 112 or 911 call - but I use Skype exclusively for business.
So I have the Skype software for making and receiving free calls to and from anyone else who also has the software; I use the SkypeOut paid service to make calls to normal phones at extremely low cost; and I have the SkypeIn service with two numbers (one in the UK and the other in the US) to make it easy for anyone in those major markets who doesn't have Skype to call me on either of those numbers. I have Skype voicemail, too, so I'm pretty much good to go every day from a business point of view.
And it all usually works pretty well.
I've had a wish list for a while. Little things like if one of your contacts sends you a Skype text message when your Skype status is shown as away or not available, it would be neat if your Skype would automatically send back a quick text message to say something like you're away or busy and will get back to them. Or if you're in a call and you get a text message, a similar auto-response.
And a big thing - it would be very useful if you could set up your Skype to forward Skype calls to a normal phone if you're travelling, say, or otherwise offline for a day or so.
Well, it looks like that wish list can now be fulfilled thanks to Jyve.
Jyve offers a free Windows plugin for Skype that lets you do all the things I've mentioned. Not only that, there's a free set of web tools (tags) that enables you to show your Skype status on your blog or regular website so visitors can see your availability at a glance. And with one click they can call you or text you there and then if they see you're available. A nice feature, which I've enabled in this blog - see the little icon in the 'About' info at the top left of your screen. [EDIT:
(although I notice it shows me as online on Skype when I'm actually not) That's not the case, actually - it functions fine and accurately reflects your online/offline status. I was probably not giving it enough time after first installing it.]
I first heard about Jyve some six months ago when they launched as a Skype-related community/social network. Now they've just relaunched with these offerings as well.
Jyve's overall offering represents an interesting development with communication tools like Skype, where third-party developers can easily add significant value to the basic package because of Skype's openness in allowing such third parties access to its application programming interface (API) for their own software development.
Now, look beyond just the cool tools they offer and consider the implications for individuals and businesses with such embryonic 'online presence' agents. Writing in Skype Journal, Stuart Henshall has some keen insight into where this is going:
[...] So here's why this version of Jyve is a big stealthy idea. It's the prototype for a revolution in online presence. Jyve may have a few months on Skype (it's in the works at Skype) and the Jyve WebTools will evolve. Jyve puts the control of "web presence information" and contact capabilities in your hands under your control. You can share it where you like and turn it on or off when you like. You can be offline on your website and online for your buddies. A first look at a future where you control your presence information and decide who will be your presence agent(s).
Final note - if you're a Skype user, today is another Free SkypeOut Day. Don't miss out!