Tonight we launched Yahoo! Messenger 7.5 Beta, delivering phone-in and phone-out support to PSTN (public switched telephone network, or “regular phones”). For rates that are quite low (inside the US, 1¢ per minute), you can call from Yahoo! Messenger to any phone in the world (“phone out”). You can also buy a live phone number (from anywhere in the world) that will ring on your Messenger client (“phone in”). There is also free voice mail.
In an unusual twist, we are actually only launching the international clients today. For now, users inside the United States will not be able to get this client. Elsewhere in the world, users can sign up from any of our international sites that we launched this evening: Germany Spain France Italy Hong Kong Singapore.
Update 2006-03-21: An updated Beta was just launched, including service for the US market (English & Spanish)!
From clievideo.com comes Palm Webcam 1.0 — a combination device/desktop application that turns camera-equipped Palm OS devices into a Windows webcam. I gave it a whirl with a Zire 72 and Treo 600 and it worked pretty well with Yahoo! Messenger. (Ahh, the best of both worlds…Palm and Yahoo!)
The video quality in both cases was pretty good with a slight nod to the Zire 72 (which has a better camera than the Treo 600). The speed was much better on the Zire 72 as well: at 320×240 resolution, the app reported 4.9 vs. 1.6 fps on the Treo; for 160×120 the difference was even larger at 1.9 vs 11.6 fps.
I like this solution — a $15 piece of software gives you a new function for your existing device. It probably won't be much of a threat to “real” webcams, but I can imagine it being useful for mobile travellers, for example (no need to bring a separate webcam with you).
Tonight we launched release 6.0 of the Yahoo! Messenger client! Going live to the web at 6pm this evening, this was a different sort of product launch than I'm used to, but it's definitely cool. I've only been here a month, so haven't really contributed to this release at all. But, it's been a good learning experience to watch the very end of a release cycle.
Here's a quick rundown of the new features:
- LAUNCHcase Radio — integrated into the IM client
- Yahoo! Games — integrated into the IM client
- Yahoo! Avatars
- Display Images
- Audibles — send talking animated characters
- Emoticons — several new ones
- IMVironments — not a 6.0 feature, but more are being released
- Stealth Settings — appear online or offline to your individual friends
- Address Book — integrated into the IM client
Go get it now:
If you want to IM me, my Yahoo! id is cantonib.
One of the cool features of Yahoo! Messenger is “IMVironments™ — or simply “IMVs”. IMVs are kind of like a skin for your IM conversation window, but can also include interactivity and links to more content on the web. (See the full list of IMVs.)
Today I was playing around with the Spider-Man 2 IMV and noticed a link to the official Spider-Man 2 blog which includes a “how to blog” section, templates for Blogger and LiveJournal, and a “production web log”. The latter is kind of spotty and the RSS feed is out of date compared to the live content, but overall this is quite interesting.