New changes to Skype and the support of third party apps have left many users frustrated, particularly where call recording is concerned. With suggestions that the service isn’t as secure as once thought, could now be the time to start looking for an alternative VoIP call recording service?
Quit Skype? Are You Mad?!
Had you told me 12 months ago that Microsoft was going to disable the Skype desktop API, thus rendering many third-party call recorders useless, I’d have suspected you (or they) were mad. Although a temporary delay has been announced, the writing is clearly on the wall.
Like many people, I use Skype extensively, both as a telephony system (I work from home, and my Office 365 subscription gives me free monthly call credit) and for podcasting with two online colleagues. The best solution for podcasting in this way (and for bringing in someone over the phone) is a call recording app – I use.
To find that the technology giant was going to pull its desktop API was just another piece of the crazy world in which Microsoft has decided that desktop computing is obsolete. We basically have to find another way – and given the service’s NSA links, for this user at least the disconnection from Skype isn’t going to be as hard as it might once have been. A previous Skype update left MP3 SkypeCallRecorder unusable for several days – not ideal!
It wasn’t all that long ago that these methods for recording Skype calls would all work. Now with Microsoft set to make big changes to the software, many of them won’t produce results with future versions of Skype.
The following suggestions for Skype alternatives with built-in call recording support are intended for Windows users (although cross-platform versions may be available). Note that you should only record calls if it is legal in your area, and with the agreement of the person you’re speaking with.
The Obvious Choice: Switch To Google
If you want to replace Skype with software that also supports or has built in call recording, probably the first place to check is Google. Voice and Hangouts are both useful here, with built-in call recording in Google Voice (enabled via Settings > Calls > Call options).
As for Hangouts, if you’re planning to record material you can do so by downloading the MP4 of the completed meeting from your YouTube account and converting this to MP3 using a dedicated tool or even VLC Player’s built-in file conversion tools (Media > Convert > Network > Set preferences).
Growing in popularity as a cross-platform, pan-network chat tool, Jitsi (a 41 MB download) has the added bonus of being able to record calls.
This alone makes it worth a look, but best of all is the fact that you can use your existing Facebook, Google Talk, MSN/Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo!, AIM or even ICQ account with the service for text chat, saving a lot of time migrating contacts to yet another new chat service.
Perhaps the most flexible alternative to Skype when it comes to recording calls, ooVoo (a 2.4 MB download) supports voice and video call recording and will upload to either an ooVoo server or YouTube.
Like Skype, ooVoo offers free calls within the network for voice and video, while calls to landlines and mobiles will require ooVoo credit. Meanwhile, the service also supports online collaboration with screen sharing for up to 12 recorded video chat users – however this is ad-supported. An ad-free premium option for enterprise users is also available.
A free signup is required, and if you’re concerned about the lack of contacts on this network, don’t worry – you can connect your Facebook account!
Note that if you choose ooVoo, it will attempt to install the Ask.com toolbar and set up a Humnut account, so be vigilant when clicking through the installer!
Or, You Could Stick With Old Versions Of Skype
One alternative you could use is to stick with an old version of Skype, refusing all updates. Opening Tools > Options Advanced > Automatic Updates and clicking Turn off automatic updates is a good way of doing this – but as the window observes, Windows Update may install updates for the application.
Accepting future updates will at some point remove the ability of your current Skype recording app to record and save calls to your computer.
The problem with refusing updates, of course, is that if you’re not the only user of your computer, someone else may permit them. You may prefer to add www.oldversion.com to your favourites, where you can find every version of Skype released – don’t attempt to use any version older than 2.5, however.
For call recorders, you could stick with your existing setup if you’re refusing to install updates, but a good workaround is to find a solution that doesn’t rely on the API. Audacity, for instance, can be used to record calls from Skype, as can Total Recorder.
The fate of your Skype call recording is in your hands.
Image Credit: Marco Raaphorst