If you are like me, using Skype on Linux for communication with family, friends, colleagues... you must have got tired of same old never updated Skype client. Windows version of Skype gets all the new features while Microsoft predictably left Linux version of the app without any updates and recently made Skype for Linux alpha which has all cool features stripped out. For example, the chat history is kept only 30 days, which is deal breaker for me, and I keep using old 4.2 client. Well, we are not only ones here having beef with Microsoft's way of handling Skype Linux users. For example Janus Friis, one of founders of Skype, saw business opportunity in this. A chance to make new and better Skype. So in this article we are going to see what he created. We are going to introduce Wire, new messaging and video call application that aims to unset Microsoft Skype from it's throne. The Wire client is even Free Software under GPLv3 and the code is available on GitHub. Wire supports many things that Skype for Linux does not, most notably:
1) Sharing Music from Spotify and SoundCloud and listening in the chat window
2) Sharing Pictures with instaint view in chat window
3) Sharing GIFs from giphy3.com or from hard drive and viewing them in chat window
4) Sharing Videos from Youtube and watching them in chat window
5) Video and voice chat for up to 5 people with HD quality
6) Off course, messaging is there, and Wire is present on all mayor platforms
7) Otto the Bot to guide you through the features
8) Full end to end encryption
Installing Wire on Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distros
At this point in time, Wire client for Linux is still experimental, and it is officially supported only on Ubuntu. Ubuntu based derivatives will also work, but the Wire company is not officially supporting neither Mint nor any other distribution other than Ubuntu. To download Wire, you can head to download page, download the deb and double click it to install. Or, if you are like me, preferring the command line, you can use those commands.
This will fetch the package from wire site but be aware that this version in this command will be outdated soon, so you might still need to go to the download page and right click the download button to record then new link and paste it after wget command. After that is done, lets install it.
sudo dpkg -i wire_2.11.2661_amd64.deb
Same like above, wire_ needs to be followed by correct version, so you might just want to press tab button. That is it, the Wire is installed.
Making the account
Next we need to do is start it and make an account.
After you made account, it will send you mail, where you have verification link. After that, you are can proceed to login screen.
It is same as first picture, except you chose login tab. Enter your newly made account credentials and you are on the Wire.
Videos and GIFs
After you first started the program, you will be greeted by Otto the Bot. He will guide us to the basic features of Wire that we don't need to pester some other Wire user in order to test the program and learn how to use it.
You only need to type something to Otto, say hello. And he will show you what you can do.
Unlike Skype, you can just paste link to video, and then video will be playable without starting the browser. That is something Skype only allows for Windows users.
GIF moving images are also supported. You need to type name of the GIF and then click GIF button in the left bottom corner. Then the Wire is going to search giphy.com site for appropriate GIFs and give you popup with GIF. You can chose to send in or request next one. When you are satisfied with GIF, click send and use it to send the GIF to your friend or to Otto. Here is what I got when I typed cat.
If you want to put GIF from your hard drive, you just press GIF icon without typing anything.
Voice Calls and playing music
You can call Otto with voice call or video call, he will greet you play Spring by Vivaldi for you to show you sound performance of Wire. Unfortunately, I cant convey sound for you here but I can say that is pretty good quality. Before starting the music, Otto will tell you that you can have group conversation of up to 5 people and both sound and video are in high definition. Otto will also show you that you can easily share music with your friend and same as video, music can be played without opening the browser or music player.
Music for now needs to be from Spotify and SoundCloud, we sure hope they will add more music providers.
We can only conclude that Wire is great. Only not so great thing is the part that we still need to convince all our contacts to switch from Skype. I hope this article can help with that. This program has great future ahead, and unlike Skype, the company behind it promises to keep all platforms at feature parity and with complete compatibility. So there wont be a situation like with Skype for Linux alpha, when you can only video call other Skype for Linux alpha users, and not all Skype users. Which defeats the purpose of Skype altogether. By switching to Wire, we can make sure Microsoft don't get its way. This is all for this article, thank you for reading and have a nice day.