RealTime IT News

Yahoo Adds Teeth to Messenger

Internet portal Yahoo says it will scrap the walkie-talkie style technology used on its PC-to-PC voice communications in favor of a new beta version that boasts a steady connection.

The service, available on Yahoo Messenger, offers improved PC-to-PC voice connections, interactive photo sharing, and improved integration with other Yahoo properties, as well as several more bells and whistles not found on the previous incarnation, according to the company.

"Talking to your computer no longer means you are crazy, it means you are smart, because you are taking advantage of innovative technology and a unique combination of features that only Yahoo Messenger offers," Brad Garlinghouse, vice president of communications products at Yahoo, said in a statement.

Garlinghouse also said Yahoo is committed to providing a "world-class IM experience" for consumers, and expects the company to continue to enhance and extend voice services as a core component of Yahoo Messenger.

Unlike the earlier PC-to-PC voice, the beta will have a constant connection with "good voice quality," even if users are connected by dial-up, the company said. The previous model only allowed for back-and-forth, walkie-talkie style communications.

Also, for the first time, voicemail messages can be left even for users who are not online, and can be retrieved through a call-history log that displays all voicemail messages. To further personalize the PC-to-PC calling experience, users can customize ring tones.

The move comes at a time when interest in Voice over IP is blossoming and companies are looking to take advantage of "free phone" facilities that allow subscribers to call anywhere in the world.

Yahoo's chief IM competition -- Microsoft's MSN Messenger and America Online's AIM -- also provide similar VoIP services.

Those companies, along with Yahoo, continue to provide added services in an escalating efforts to capture the growing and changing instant messaging markets. Yahoo has recently added numerous services to tie its IM client to other services, including blogs, music, television and more.