Get ready for the second major wave of video chatting -- not only is Apple about to bring video calling to the masses with the iPhone 4, but Skype today announced the SkypeKit beta SDK, which devs can use the SDK to interface their apps and devices directly with Skype's service starting tomorrow. That means there's no need to run the Skype desktop app -- it'll just be integrated into whatever you're running, like the recent Panasonic VIERA connected TVs with Skype integration. Once they've passed a UI certification, devices and apps will be billed as "plugged into Skype," but don't expect to see anything happen too quickly: the SDK is Linux-only at the moment, with Windows and Mac desktop versions forthcoming, and Skype will be testing apps and devices before they go live.
The new SDK can use H.264 hardware encoding to supplement the relatively slow ARM chips that will be running Linux in an embedded manner -- like the Panasonic TV, for instance, which was developed using an early version of SkypeKit. We asked Skype about its SDK membership (which costs $20), and the other slight restrictions of the SDK, and they assured us it's to keep fraud from happening (Skype interacts with your wallet in its paid services), "not to keep out people we don't like." There will also be a verification process for an as-yet-undefined cost, where Skype will go over any software or hardware released with the SDK. Additionally, Skype is open sourcing its Silk audio codec (which was recently added to its iPhone app), and they're working with the IETF to make it an open, patent-free standard for use with anything, not just Skype. Check out the Litle Webbook running some custom Skype on video after the break. It's in early beta right now, and will be pushed as an update in September, along with video functionality (it's audio-only right now). We also have shots of the Grandstream GXV3140 making a Skype video call in the gallery below.