Another week, another update to Skype for Linux Alpha, the all-new Electron-based desktop VoIP app for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions.
Skype for Linux (Alpha) v1.4 brings another bunch of welcome improvements, though little in it is likely to persuade those mortally offended that the Qt app was dropped in favour of this web-based agile development framework.
- Ability to change Online status from tray
- The tray icon (supposedly) changes when there are unread notifications (see below)
- The app now supports Skype Bots
The tray icon only changes on my system when there are unread mentions (e.g, Hi @JoeySneddon), not general unread notifications (e.g., missed calls, messages).
Lastly, there’s support for Bots. Just click the robot icon in the contacts sidebar to see a list of available Bots. To use a Bot you’ll need to add it to your contacts.
Still Missing Features
Do remember that this app is in alpha and has several important features missing (if video calls were working, I’d be mentioning it).
It also has bugs. Lots of ’em.
Getting Skype for Linux 1.4
Skype for Linux (alpha) is a free download but requires a (free) Skype account to work. You can download an installer suitable for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and above from the link below.
If you already have Skype for Linux installed you don’t need to download anything. You’ll be notified of this update through your distribution’s software update mechanism, which in Ubuntu’s case is Software Updater.
A small (well, long) rant.
A lot of bile and hate mail has been directed at me over the past few weeks, much of it using the term “Microsoft shill”. The reason? I’m writing about each of the Skype for Linux Alpha updates as they’re released.
I know, unforgivable.
Fact is, I’m writing about Skype for Linux on a weekly basis because it’s being updated on a weekly basis. Now, there’s a good chance that, say a month down the line, these updates will be slow or be of such minor, inconsequential stuff that I’ll skip covering them at all.
That’s a possibility.
But right now we’re in the opening throes of its development. A lot of key, core and (importantly) screenshot-able features are being added and they’re being added regularly.
Skype — love it or hate it — is a well-known, widely used application. I am not writing about it because Microsoft is “paying” me. I’m writing about it because the Skype team are doing a bloody good job on giving me a constant stream of stuff to write about it — and people are reading it!
I have never made a promise that 100% of posts on this site will be of 100% relevance to 100% of you.
Perhaps the most ironic thing about having to endure the whining is that I, personally, don’t use Skype anymore. I have an account, sure, but I only dust it off when I need to test this app. Like a lot of you I prefer using services like WhatsApp, Telegram and Google Hangouts to chitter-chatter and stay in touch.
And of those below the age of 30 who do use Skype I suspect few do so willingly! Most people I know only use it because it’s required by their work, is the quickest way to contact a specific person, or is the app they use to talk to their auntie on the other side of the world twice a year!
Tl;dr: don’t erode your eye sockets by eye-rolling at these weekly Skype for Linux update posts — they’re here for a reason.