Yahoo today announced availability of the Yahoo! Messenger 10 beta. What’s in the new beta? High-quality video calls, a “Y! Updates” view of your contact list that turns Messenger into a Twitter stream, new ways to sort your contacts and support for 16 different languages.
High-Quality Video Calls
They have revamped the one-to-one video calls, building it right into the chat window, improving the video quality and synchronizing the audio with the video. You can swap window positions (between your preview and the person you are viewing), display both windows side-by-side, and put the call on mute or hold.
There are some caveats. The new video call requires both parties to be running Yahoo! Messenger 10, and the changes don’t apply to one-to-many webcam broadcasting.
Y! Updates View
The new Y! Updates view of your contacts is more interesting to me, as it is a unique way of displaying your contacts, sorted in a live stream of updates that will be familiar to Facebook and Twitter users. The most recent updates will appear at the “top” of the contact list. Updates can come from Twitter, Last.fm, Yahoo! Buzz, Flickr, nearly 20 non-Yahoo web sites, and (of course) Y! Messenger status updates.
Why is this interesting? Yahoo is incorporating Twitter and co-opting the real-time update stream in way that other IMs have not quite done. Other IM programs like Digsby and Trillian Astra allow you to see updates from Twitter, but they display them as pop-up alerts, not as a view of your contacts. By turning the contact list model into a real-time stream sorted by the latest updates, Yahoo has transformed the contact list into something more dynamic and engaging.
The features are interesting, but keep in mind that this is still beta software and there probably are bugs. If that puts you off, stick to version 9.