For the few people who own a compatible Smart TV from Samsung, Skype just got better.
Microsoft, which owns the video-calling software brand, says an updated Skype app is available now for 2014 Samsung TVs that feature a built-in camera. As far as we can tell, that amounts to the of curved 4K Ultra HD TVs -- and that's it. For all other 2014 Samsung TVs we could find on Samsung's site, the camera is an add-on option.
If you own the HU9000, you now have access to Skype 4.0. The three-party group video call feature allows you to add a third Skype contact to a call, which appears split-screen on the TV (as shown below). The app update also bumps resolution up to 1080p, which should result in improved image quality.
Microsoft recommends a "sustained internet connection of 1Mbps symmetrical bandwidth or higher" for 1080p calls and download/upload speed of 2Mbps/512kbps or higher for three-party group calls.
Free group video Skype calls have been available since April 2014 on PC, Mac and Xbox One, but this is a first for a native Smart TV app. PCs support up to 25 people on one call.
Skype has been available for years on numerous smart TV platforms. In our experience it's nice to have the images blown up to big-screen size, but the conversations lack the satisfying intimacy of a PC, tablet or phone Skype call, because the zoom isn't tight enough. To get the tight closeups shown above, for example, you'd have to sit unnaturally close to the TV's fixed camera.
We expect the improved app to make it to other TVs eventually, but Microsoft has only announced support for those specific Samsung models for now.