Google introduces smart spoon to prevent spilling

Google has introduced a “smart spoon” aimed to help people suffering from essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease. The company states that the product can reduce shaking of the spoon bowl by an average of 76%.
Internet giant Google has started promoting its Liftware spoon, a high tech device that employs hundreds of algorithms to sense how a hand is shaking and makes instant adjustments to stay balanced. The spoons have been launched for $295.
Parkinson’s disease affects more than 10 million people worldwide, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s mother. According to reports Brin has also said he has a genetic mutation associated with higher rates of Parkinson’s. He has donated more than $50m to research for a cure.
“We want to help people in their daily lives today and hopefully increase understanding of disease in the long run,” Google spokesperson Katelin Jabbari said.
Earlier this year, Google had acquired Lift Lab, the spoon’s maker. The company’s founder, Anupam Pathak and his team now work for Google X’s life sciences division.
Pathak states that they hope to add sensors to the spoons to help medical researchers and providers better understand, measure and alleviate tremors.
Apart from this the division has made major acquisitions in medical field. The division owns a stake in DNAnexus, a software company analyzing genome sequencing to better understand the genetic factors of heart disease and ageing. Google’s X’s life sciences division is also working on smart contact lens that would measure glucose levels in tears to help diabetics track their blood sugar levels and is researching on how nanoparticles in blood might help detect diseases.

Here’s how to stop Twitter from tracking your apps

Twitter has said that it will soon collect and track the apps installed on your mobile device in order to deliver tailored content that it feels you might be interested in. Though the micro-blogging site states that it will not collect any app data, many may be apprehensive about giving away more information about themselves to Twitter than they intended to.

The latest update to the Twitter app for iOS or Android automatically enables the feature, which means unaware users will unknowingly give out their app details to Twitter. Thankfully, Twitter allows users to opt out of this feature in few simple steps.

For iOS users

1. If you have installed the Twitter app on an iOS device, click on the Me tab and tap the gear icon.

2. Click on Settings.

3. Select the account you’d like to adjust.

4. Under Privacy, you can adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter based on my apps.’

For Android users

1. Android users will need to click the overflow icon and select Settings.

2. Select the account you’d like to adjust.

3. Under Other, adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter based on my apps.’

You can also adjust the ‘Limit ad tracking‘ setting on iOS or ‘Opt out of interest based-ads‘ on Android, to stop Twitter from sending you interest-based ads.

International Space Station’s 3D Printer Pops Out First Creation

The first 3D printer in space has popped out its first creation.
The 3D printer delivered to the International Space Station two months ago made a sample part for itself this week. It churned out a faceplate for the print head casing.

Space station commander Butch Wilmore removed the small plastic creation from the printer Tuesday for eventual return to Earth. About 20 objects will be printed in the next few weeks for analysis back home, Nasa said. The space agency hopes to one day use 3D printing to make parts for broken equipment in space.

Made in Space, the California company that supplied the space station’s 3D printer, called it “a transformative moment.” The newly created, rectangular faceplate – considered functional by the company – includes the Made in Space name, as well as Nasa’s.

“When the first human fashioned a tool from a rock, it couldn’t have been conceived that one day we’d be replicating the same fundamental idea in space,” Aaron Kemmer, chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Similar 3D items will be duplicated at the company’s offices for comparison.

The company will replace the orbiting demo machine with a much bigger commercial printer next year. The European Space Agency, meanwhile, plans to fly its own 3D printer in 2015.

Fortumo’s Sanjay Sinha on Alternate Android App Stores and Carrier Billing

India has a humongous base of smartphone users who are hungry for content, be it apps or games – along with Brazil and Thailand, India is one of the main drivers forgrowth in Google Play’s app store. It’s a market ripe for the taking but if you actually look at the top charts you realise very quickly that downloads are being driven by free content, and that’s because credit cards are still relatively rare in the country – according to a report from May there are just 19 million credit cards in the country. Google has been looking into different methods for payments, according to Sergio Salvador, Global Head of Gaming Partnerships at Google, but there is nothing concrete yet.

And this is where Estonia-headquartered Fortumo comes in. The company lets consumers charge their app purchases to their mobile operator without the need for a credit card – you will simply pay for the apps as a part of your mobile phone bill. We spoke to Sanjay Sinha, Country Manager for India at Fortumo on what it takes to kickstart India’s burgeoning app industry.

China, and other app stores

Before Sinha can sell developers on the idea of carrier billing, he tells us that developers need to be aware that a large number of users exist outside of Google’s official app store.

“A lot of developers believe that because Google Play – the dominant app store – does not allow for any alternative billing system there’s no reason to integrate Fortumo or other billing system,” he says. “It’s pretty important to sell the idea that there’s an alternate revenue model through these channels and if they’re going for those alternate channels, they have a good opportunity.”

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Some of the alternative Android app stores Fortumo caters to.

There have also been developer complaints where games and apps have been removed from Google Play with vague reasons given, so alternative app stores are a viable option for many.

According to Sinha, alternative app stores have 50 to 100 million users outside China. In China their presence is huge – over a billion users, according to Sinha – since Google Play is not a part of that market for now. He says Fortumo makes entry into a China relatively painless, and further helps with guidance in terms of setting price points and localisation.

Making Windows Phone

In addition to alternate Android app stores such as Mobango, 9Games, and Yandex, the company claims to be seeing a lot of traction of Windows Phone as well, for which it integrates with as well. The success on Microsoft’s platform is due to two factors, he says. One being Windows Phone’s popularity in the region, and the second being the plethora of funds to incentivise Windows Phone app development launched by the company during the year.

Earlier in the year, Fortumo was also giving an advance to developers to integrate on Windows Phone. The amount ranged from $1,000 (approx. Rs. 60,000) to $25,000 (approx. Rs.1,55,000) depending on the download numbers their apps had. According to Sinha it was a good move. “Aside from generating interest from developers and awareness towards that market, we have seen sign ups through these initiatives as well. So yes, these have been fairly successful,” he says.

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Apart from incentivised programs to get developers on board, Fortumo’s terms and conditions are surprisingly developer friendly. Developers can sign up and use its service without a fuss. Sinha says there are no minimum commercial requirements from developers, making it an extremely attractive proposition.

In the process however, Sinha has noticed that the average purchase value of users on carrier billing has gone down. “We have done a study where the average ticket size in India is down but volume is increasing. It’s welcome news for us as it means there are new customers in the system,” Sinha opines.

Part of this is due to the focus from smartphone makers on the mid-range and low-end handsets. This means a new, but hesitant to spend demographic now have access to digital purchases. Now, the onus is on developers and designers to build games and content that ensure repeat purchases.

Furthermore, Sinha tells us that most in-app purchases are in-between Rs. 10 and Rs. 20, and if developers targeting the Indian masses, he suggests a sub-Rs. 50 price for their digital wares.

What after carrier billing?

With alternative payment options emerging such as purchasing and loading apps at physical retail, we asked Sinha if he sees any alternative to carrier billing being the dominant choice in India.

“Carrier billing will be the dominant medium because it has a lot of advantages over alternative payment channels,” says Sinha. “Most importantly, it’s platform agnostic. The telco connection is a neutral connection. It includes Windows, Android, and feature phones as well that’s still a good market. The telco gives us agnostic connection, we make it platform specific.”

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We’ve been told that developers looking to monetise in India with Fortumo get around 40 to 45 percent in revenue share (it varies as per telco involved).

That might be a stumbling block – both Google Play and Windows Phone don’t support carrier billing natively, but they do give developers a 70 percent share of the revenue. It’s up to developers to decide if the loss of 25 to 30 percent of revenue is worth accessing a relatively untapped market. Big local studios like Octro and Games2Win have already signed up. Sinha tells us around 30 more studios are looking to integrate with the company as well. So for now, the response appears to be positive – but if Google were to actually open up more payment systems in countries where credit card penetration is low, things could change instantly.

 

BlackBerry Monetises BBM; Claims 1.1 Million BBM Channels

BlackBerry has been looking at ways to monetise its BBM service for a while, and the company has finally given BBM Channels owners and advertises ways to promote their content, as promised back in March. To further that cause, it has announced new partnerships to expand its ad sales network,

Additionally, the Canadian company announced that it now has 1.1 million BBM Channels. For the uninitiated, BlackBerry’s BBM Channels are community-based broadcast groups or forums that allow people, brands and communities to interact with each other. “BBM will also connect BBM Channel users with brands and businesses they may be interested in following within the Feeds area of BBM,” BlackBerry added.

Announcing the news, Matthew Talbot, Senior Vice President, Emerging Solutions atBlackBerry on the company’s Inside BlackBerry Business blog writes, “We’re monetizing BBM in several ways now that it’s no longer tied to the BlackBerry operating system, and open to iPhone, Android, and Windows devices. Targeted mobile ads and sponsored content are two important parts of that strategy, and we’re seeing this across the social industry.”

Talbot further detailed just why BBM is an ideal platform for advertisers, saying, “As one of the largest private mobile social networks, BBM is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a mobile messaging market that is estimated to grow into the multi-billions in the next few years. Our highly engaged customer base has grown to more than 90 million monthly active users around the world, so we have great placements to offer advertisers.”

The company stressed about security of its BBM users and said, “At no time is personally identifiable information about any BBM user viewable by channel owners or advertisers.”

BlackBerry further detailed where advertisers (specifically BBM Channel owners) can place various posts within a user’s BBM ‘Feeds’:

 

  • Sponsored posts, which place content in the user’s BBM feed where they can click to download an app or access more information. Sponsored posts in a social media news feed are the best-performing type of ad unit that exists. Early BBM campaigns have delivered industry-leading click-through rates.
  • Sponsored invites, BBM’s most native ad unit, offer brands a dynamic way to reach out to their most loyal customers, as well as to potential customers.
  • Sponsored sticker packs, which provide brands a new way of visually communicating their brand message within conversations and linking to products, services, and promotional offers outside of BBM.
  • Featured placements, which are the primary way for BBM users to discover new brands to follow in BBM Channels.

The company also announced new regional partners for mobile advertising expertise and believes that the new partners will “represent BBM in markets where we [BlackBerry] have a strong brand and large, active BBM audiences.” The partners are Blyk, which will represent BBM globally while Habari Media that will represent the service in South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana.

BlackBerry earlier this month introduced new cross-platform app called BBM Meetings that allows video conferencing with up to 25 participants at the same time. Prior to this, the Canadian company announced support for timed messages and message retraction.

 

Virtual Wallets and How to Use Them

Lately it seems like most companies are falling over themselves to find new ways for you to make payments. Cash went out of fashion ages ago and instead of having to rely on a credit or debit card companies now want you to pay for just about everything using a virtual wallet. After facing regulatory troubles Uber India has now tied up with Paytm to handle its cashless payments while others like Ola have chosen to launch wallet systems of their own. For most of us, those terms are pretty meaningless. In case you’re wondering what a virtual wallet is, or why you’d want to use one, we’ve got you covered.

What’s ‘Virtual’ about this wallet?
The basic concept is really simple – a virtual wallet just serves as a place to hold some of your money online. You make payments using the money stored in your wallet instead of using a credit card, debit card or net banking, which means your bank account doesn’t need to be accessed. Of course, adding money to the wallet still requires you to use one of those methods.

Once you’ve stored the money in a wallet, you can use it to make payments – to the wallet provider or to third party services depending on the type of wallet you’ve signed up for. Most services also come with a mobile app so you can easily check your balance and make purchases. Some wallet services such as Paytm are built around their own stores where you can buy goods, and some let you buy recharges for your phone or pay your DTH bill. You can also use these wallets to make payments at other websites – BookMyShow and JustEat.in both support Paytm, for example.

bookmyshow_wallets

 

Why would you want to do this? The biggest reason is probably ease of use – something that is particularly true for mobile users. Unless the site you want to make a payment on lets you save your credit or debit card details, you’re going to have to spend a fair bit of time typing them in every time you need to make a payment.

Add to that the fact that the RBI has decided that all transactions need to be secured by a second verification code or one-time-password, and the process of paying online using your credit or debit card becomes extremely cumbersome. Paying with a wallet can also be safer – the wallet itself might not be required to have the same level of security as your credit card but since your bank account isn’t touched the amount of harm that’s possible if the seller is compromised, is limited.

That’s because mobile wallets in India are limited to a maximum account value of Rs. 10,000 and are typically expected to be used for small payments. Therefore wallets are not subject to the same security restrictions. This means that you can use one of these wallet services to quickly and conveniently make payments from your mobile phone after loading it with cash when you have free time – you could even do this from your computer, where entering all the bank details is easier.

And since the concept of a mobile wallet is still pretty new in India, almost all the companies that offer them are also offering deals, discounts and free top-ups – for example, Ola launched its wallet with an offer to double the money you stored in it, and Paytm has regular discounts on products, offered as credit added to your wallet that can be used to shop some more.

Not everyone is convinced that this concept is going to succeed universally though – for example, while Zomato is planning on bringing payments to its app soon, it is not looking at a wallet as a solution. “Wallets work when the spend is low and a one-time significantly low value recharge can work for multiple uses,” says Pankaj Chaddah, COO Zomato. “Restaurants involve high spends. I don’t see wallets doing well as a user will need to put in a lot of money to last for 3 months. That’s why we will work on credit cards being used.”

There are two main types of virtual wallets right now – the single-purpose closed wallet, and the more versatile semi-closed wallet, which is growing in popularity now.

Closed
A closed wallet is one where the flow of money is one-directional. You can put your money into the wallet, but can’t later withdraw it. A closed wallet can’t be used for making payments to third parties; it is in effect a prepaid card for these different services. Paying with a closed wallet is usually automatic – like a pre-paid card, your balance gets deducted as you use the service.

So for example, Ola has a closed wallet for its taxis, and the money that you put into the service can only be used to pay for those taxis. It will never expire, though, and since Ola controls the wallet, it can give you loyalty rewards and discounts with ease.

“Payment is an important cog in the wheel of any experience,” says Anand Subramanian, Director – Marketing Communications, Ola. “A wallet helps make the experience seamless for both customers and drivers saving time and effort involved in the transaction.”

“The process of recharging the Ola Money wallet is as simple as topping up one’s prepaid phone,” he adds. “[You] can recharge online through net banking, credit or debit cards with just a few taps straight from their mobile app. Customers can also recharge after they’ve boarded their cab and before the ride is completed.”

Semi-closed
A semi-closed wallet lets you take money out of it and put it back into your bank account. This means that you have full control over your money – and it can be used to pay for a wide range of services. Some well-known ones are Paytm, Oxigen andMobikwik. These are much more flexible than fully closed wallets, but also come under far more oversight from the RBI. The concept is quickly gaining in popularity though. For example, Paytm launched in January 2014, and is now being used for over 8 lakh orders per day, says Paytm Chairman and Managing Director, Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

According to Sharma, the mobile app has been downloaded by 12 million people (of which 90 percent are Android users); and Paytm has a total of 22 million members now.

“We are leaving credit cards and debit cards far behind,” says Sharma.

While the raw numbers are impressive, some of the data Sharma revealed shows that the bulk of its revenue- around 80 percent – still comes from mobile prepaid recharges. At the same time, you can also use Paytm to pay for various things such as tickets, and it has been expanding its offerings to include a full e-commerce marketplace which is also growing.

Meanwhile, competitors such as MobiKwik and Oxigen also let you store your money online. While Oxigen wallet can be used only for prepaid recharges, mobile, DTH, electricity and landline bills, MobiKwik lets you pay your bills and use its wallet with various merchants. Like Paytm, MobiKwik incentivises spending with cashback offers – for example, right now if you use your Mobikwik Wallet to pay on eBay, you will receive a 15 percent discount on any item you’re buying.

You can use these wallets the same way you’d use your credit or debit card. If a seller supports your wallet, then you just choose that as the payment method during the checkout process, the way you’d choose a credit card or money transfer. Then, you just authorise the transaction with your credentials, and the payment is made automatically.

The other big difference, when compared to a closed wallet, is that these services also let you withdraw your money. If you’ve put Rs. 5,000 in Ola’s wallet, you’re going to have to take Rs. 5,000 worth of taxi rides, because you aren’t getting that money back.

With a semi-closed wallet, there’s always the option of transferring the money back to your bank account. What’s missing in all this is a way to interconnect wallets – these companies are all competing with each other and do not share a common infrastructure. If mobile wallets become interoperable, so that for example a Paytm user could send money to a MobiKwik user, both services would become a lot more useful.

 

Black Friday Deals: Four Websites That Offer Free Shipping to India

Black Friday is this week and it’ll be followed right away by Cyber Monday – two of the biggest sales in the United States, that are a great chance to pick up good deals from international e-commerce websites. In our previous piece, we listed the best ways to ship products to India and that’s a fairly reliable and cost effective solution. Aside from these shipping services, there are also sellers who will send their products to India directly, but there are still times when shipping costs are more than the price of the product itself. That’s obviously not the merchants’ fault because international shipping is expensive, but it sometimes does make international shopping less of a deal than you’d hope.

If shipping cost is the only thing stopping you from shopping on international websites, then there are still a few sellers that offer free shipping worldwide. The catch is that you won’t be able to track these shipments and if the package is lost or stolen in transit, there isn’t much you can do. Some of these websites are run by nice people who will send the product again – taking a loss – but if you are heading down the free shipping road, don’t expect the merchants to take responsibility for the courier’s fault. Of course, this isn’t a common problem, and while it’s important to know the risks involved,many people have shared good experiences with these sites.

We haven’t bought anything from the websites ourselves yet, but all of these are well-known sellers, and we spoke to some people who have ordered the sites. Here are the ones that were most highly recommended, for everything from books to gadgets to clothes:

1. Book Depository
Book Depository is an Amazon-owned website that sells – you guessed it – books. Even before it was acquired by Amazon, this website was known for offering free shipping worldwide. Books are duty free in India, which means that you can import books without paying any Customs fee. Thanks to Flipkart, and also Amazon India, you should be able to get most popular books here but when you want a special edition or a hard to find title, try Book Depository. We have often found editions of books on Book Depository that were much nicer than the basic paperbacks that are commonly sold online in India.

2. AliExpress
China’s Alibaba group owns AliExpress, which sells just about anything, from automobile accessories to jewellery. This website is a good option if you want to order goods from China and many of its sellers offer free shipping (via China Post) to India. If you order anything from AliExpress, don’t forget to check if the item has Customs duty in India. Add that to the cost to decide if a product is worth ordering. The site is also running a special Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale so there will be plenty to choose from.

Since AliExpress functions as a marketplace, you’ll want to be a little more careful when ordering from the site as well. Some people talked to us about good experiences, while plenty of online reviews warn you about fraud. AliExpress has a great section on its website with tips to avoid being cheated and it gives some advice that we will repeat here: if it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. The page also suggests that you should avoid buying branded products, saying – “name brand products sold at far lower prices are mostly fakes.” If you look for deals, instead of steals, then AliExpress is worth checking out.

3. Dealextreme
Dealextreme is probably the best and best known site for buying gadgets. From desktop computer components like RAM to 3D printers, Dealextreme stocks pretty much any gadget you’ll need. This website is a good hunting ground for people looking for cheap accessories such as headphones and battery packs. Most products are shipped free to India, but once again, a big question mark hovers over the reliability of the shipping method.

Most of the complaints we found online were from people who were waiting for products over a month after placing the order, but there were a large number of positive comments as well. Of course, if you’re trying to get the best deal on a Black Friday or Cyber Monday discount, then be prepared for delays as well, because there would be a lot of orders taking place at the same time.

4. Asos
Asos is a UK-based website that deals in fashion-related items. You can buy items such as clothes, bags, belts, etc. on this website and they ship free to India. They sell products from their own label and from other brands such as American Apparel, Oasis and Vero Moda. Buying clothes online is a bit risky as there’s always the chance of something not fitting you properly. If you’re buying from a brand that you’re familiar with, and possibly own the same item in another colour, it might be a safe enough option. Other than that, some people also warn about issues with hugely delayed deliveries.

Which are your favourite international shopping destinations on the Web? Let us know via the comments.

Microsoft, Yahoo Fighting for Google’s Spot on Apple Safari

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Yahoo and Microsoft are reportedly pitching for the spot of default search engine in Apple’s Safari, as the Google-Apple deal is expiring next year.

According to a report by The Information, both Yahoo and Microsoft have approached Eddie Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, to offer their Yahoo! Search and Bing engines respectively.

The report (via SearchEngineLand) suggests that Cue’s decision will be based “on the quality of the product as much as the potential money made from search ads.” Notably, Google since the iPhone’s launch in 2007 has been the default option forSafari on iOS.

Search Engine Land’s Greg Sterling notes that if Yahoo gets the Safari deal, Microsoft “will still benefit in terms of shared ad revenue”.

Sterling further adds that the fact the two companies are competing in the space suggests Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is looking to soon separate from Bing, noting “Yahoo’s Gemini mobile search offering is outside the Bing-Yahoo Search Alliance.”

Last week, Yahoo replaced Google as the default service for online searches done through the Web browser in the United States. Since 2004, Google was the default option for Firefox searches and now with the new deal, which starts in December, Yahoo will retain the space for five years.

Making an announcement on the blog post, Mozilla Corporation Chief, Chris Beard had said, “We are ending our practice of having a single global default search provider. […] We are adopting a more local and flexible approach to increase choice and innovation on the Web, with new and expanded search partnerships by country.”

On the other hand, Marissa Mayer talking about the Mozilla deal, said, “It’s one of the largest independently-directed search share opportunities available in the market,” Mayer said, declining to estimate how much of a boost Yahoo expected to receive from the deal.

Millennium Telesystems Launches Intel-Based Budget Android Tablets in India

Millennium Telesystems, a new venture by Millennium Automation & Systems, has launched two new Intel processor-based tablets namely Millennium Tablet M7 and Millennium MT701 Tablet at a price tag of Rs. 8,999 and Rs. 5,999 respectively. Both tablets will soon be available to buy from leading e-commerce websites and have been listed on the company’s own website.

The voice-calling Millennium Tablet M7 (seen below) tablet features a 7-inch display with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels, translating to a pixel density of roughly 170ppi. The tablet runs the dated Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean version and is powered by an Intel Atom Z2520 processor (2 cores, 4 threads, 1.2GHz base clock, and 1MB Cache) alongside 1GB of RAM and Imagination PowerVR SGX544 MP2 (300MHz) GPU for handling graphics.

The Millennium Tablet M7 bears 8GB of built-in storage and supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 32GB). It also sports a 2-megapixel rear and 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Backed by a 3000mAh Li-Po battery, the tablet offers 3G, Bluetooth, Micro-USB, GPS, and Wi-Fi 802 a/b/g/n connectivity options. The tablet comes in White colour variant will soon be available exclusively via Snapdeal.

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The Millennium MT701 Tablet (seen on top) on the other hand, shares almost all the specifications of the Millennium Tablet M7 with some minor changes. A Wi-Fi only tablet, it runs on the newer Android 4.4.2 KitKat version along with 2GB of RAM. The device also lacks voice-calling feature. It only comes in Black colour variant, and will be exclusively available from Homeshop 18 website.

“Tablets are greatly influencing in what way or manner tasks are completed, contributing to new levels of productivity and greater levels of overall satisfaction. Millennium Telesystems is committed to delivering the latest in mobile technology at affordable prices, so that our consumers can discover new exciting possibilities in their personal and professional lives,” said Varinder Singh Jawanda, Managing Director, Millennium Telesystems in a statement.

“When it comes to the mobile devices, consumers today want a smooth browsing experience, security, good battery life, better visuals and graphics without compromising on performance. Intel always strives to deliver the best computing experience to consumers irrespective of form factors. We are happy to collaborate with Millennium to launch their new Intel Processor powered tablets that will deliver an ideal balance of performance, battery life and graphics for an enhanced user experience,” added Anand Ramamoorthy Director, Consumption Sales, Intel South Asia on the launch.

 

Microsoft adds Skype document chat to Office Online

icrosoft releases Skype for Office Word and Powerpoint, makes it easier for users to collaborate over documents

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Microsoft has released web based Skype that allows users to make calls and chats even without installing the application. The app will be available for a test period to a small number of existing users, followed by a global release in the coming weeks according to the company.

Microsoft Office Online users will see a dedicated chat button appear inside Microsoft PowerPoint and Word in the coming weeks. Users can just click that button while they are collaboratively editing a file to start chatting with everyone working on the document. The tech giant says users will be able to continue chats started in Office Online on Skype on the desktop or your smartphone even after you’ve closed the file.

“It’s perfect if you prefer using the web rather than an app: perhaps you’re sitting at a computer that doesn’t already have Skype downloaded,” Microsoft said in its statement. The U.S. software giant also said, “Or maybe you’re on the go and using an Internet cafe or hotel computer whilst on vacation where you can’t download Skype at all.”

A chat panel will appear once a user starts a Skype chat conversation. “Since this is Skype, you can continue the conversation outside the browser since it will be available in the Skype app on your smart phones, tablets and other devices.”

Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 for $8.5 million. The tech giant recently revealed that Skype has more than 300 million users globally who make more than two billion voice and video calls online every day. The availability of the app on Office will help further increase its users base.