Skype is launching a developer preview of the SkypeKit for Desktop SDK, which includes support for video calling. The SDK, which will make it possible for third-party desktop applications to natively incorporate Skype video chat functionality, takes Skype one step closer toward decoupling the popular service from the company’s own client software.
A closed beta of the SkypeKit SDK first launched last year. At the time, it was only supported on the Linux operating system and was intended solely for use in mobile and embedded devices. The goal was to enable broader Skype integration on consumer electronics products, such as televisions. The SkypeKit SDK beta was later expanded with experimental versions for Windows and Mac OS X.
The SkypeKit SDK for devices finally emerged from closed beta in June. This week, Skype is following that up with a developer preview of the new SkypeKit for Desktop SDK. Prior to the availability of this SDK, conventional third-party desktop applications that wanted to interoperate with Skype’s network had to rely on a set of public APIs exposed by the company’s official client. That meant that users had to separately install the official client and have it running in the background.
The new SkypeKit for Desktop SDK doesn’t have the limitations of the old Skype API. It allows desktop applications to have native support for Skype communication protocols, including video chat, without needing the official client. In addition to enabling tight Skype integration in various products like PC games, it will also open the door to third-party alternatives to the official client.
Skype’s developer website highlighted the multiprotocol Trillian chat client as one of the applications that is already taking advantage of the new SDK. Trillian developer Cerulean Studios, which was given early access to the SDK, released a Skype-enabled beta for Windows in late August. It’s the first version of Trillian that offers Skype integration sans official client.
The growing number of devices with built-in front-facing webcams suggests that there is a big opportunity for video chat providers. Although Skype’s video calling protocol is far from being an open standard, the availability of an SDK for third-party developers could help further entrench the company’s service by making it more widely accessible.