Friday, May 27, 2005

Skype features I want

Martin Geddes - Telepocalypse

A completely random brain-dump of stuff I want Skype to do for me.
Better display list of buddies. It’s 90% whitespace in an unending scrollbox. Needs a new information architecture.
“I want to talk” rendezvous. Even have the system give us an automated IM when we’re both online, with the option to say “let’s go” and automated call set-up if we’re both in agreement. Extend to groups. Great way of keeping in touch with friends; reintroduce the politeness of “calling cards” (the 19th century concept, not the 20th century one).
Notification of when a group of people are online.
Remember all text chat. I’ve got plenty of hard drive space. Don’t make me bookmark a chat to save it. Save everything. And make it easy to search.
Better SkypeIn and SkypeOut audio quality. In a perfect world it would know the codec of the receiver and adjust accordingly. (Ever wondered why calling a CDMA phone from a GSM phone sounds so lousy? It’s because of the codec transation.)
Easy switching from headset to PC speaker. Just a click, no different from the speakerphone button in your office.
Intelligent handling of unplugged headsets and zero/muted volume. How often has someone called you only for you to have a panic to find your headset in your laptop bag?
Grouping of buddies, esp. so I can just click on a group name to start a conf call or chat. (Ideally someone could be in more than 1 group).
Somewhere to lodge “latent” buddies. My list is getting long, and I don’t even know who some of these people are! But I’d like to park them somewhere “below the fold” without sending them to limboland of being removed from my contacts but still an approved buddy).
No changes of window focus when I’m typing. (A problem with Windows, I suspect; call comes in when I’m typing and it’s easy to hit a keyboard shortcut by mistake and answer/decline by accident.)
Clearer separation of name and comment data. We shouldn’t need to annotate our names with other info (“Martin Geddes | Edinburgh”). Make the “away” message a big central feature and always easy to see and edit, not hidden on a profile page.
Much smarter presence — ability to integrate with calendar (“on vacation”), know my location and time zone (use some geocoding service), report when I’m on a call.
Touch-tone dialpad that actually works…
My SkypeIn numbers somewhere obvious on the “Your Account” section of the Start tab, as I can never remember them.
Less confusing way of adding people to conference calls; other parties should be able to see status “Martin is adding in Joe Bloggs — awaiting answer from Joe”. The whole point of the stupid network is new types of message!
“Virtual places” where I can just hang-out in an always-on “call” and buddies/workmakes can drop by. The equivalent of peeking over the cubicle wall for a chat. (A more constrained version of the “Skype me” presence setting.)
Tabbed UI option for all chats and calls. No more windows popping up everywhere, please.
Less confusing chat session model. I can never understand why starting a new chat with someone opens an old chat session window. Affordances should be explicit.
Eliminate difference between “close” and “quit” of a chat session. Maybe have a button for “older messages” instead?
Automatic top-up of SkypeOut balance; ensure I never run out of credit during a (business) call.
Make the “last seen” popup much easier to understand at a glance (“last seen 9 days ago at 11:40am on Tuesday 17 May”). Maybe even sort offline buddies by “last seen” (although that complicates sending a message to someone offline)?
Some of this stuff may already be there and just hidden. (Took me ages to discover user drag and drop in Skype.) Perhaps we need a “tip of the day”? If any of this confuses the user interface or Joe Skyper then better to leave it out, or make an explicit upgrade to a (paid-for?) “advanced” edition or mode.
And yours?


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