Yahoo's popular instant messenger client, aptly named Yahoo Messenger, is getting ready for a major update. With the turmoil surrounding the company's search business and the shift in focus towards content and more social features, the new Yahoo Messenger 10 Beta is in line with the Internet giant's new vision. Major new features include a greatly improved video chat and the social-oriented Yahoo Updates, which shows the status updates of users' friends inside the messenger window.
Yahoo Messenger has had webcam support for quite a while but it was just an addition to the chat or the voice call conversation, something that made it more interesting but wasn't essential to the experience. This is about to change in the upcoming messenger version, with video chat becoming a conversation option on its own. There is a new “Video Call” button that initiates the one-on-one video call. This will bring up the video stream inside the conversation window with synced audio to provide a real video chat experience.
There are several options for managing the conversations, with users being able to swap the video windows and mute or put the conversation on hold. But if they want to focus on just one conversation, they can even expand the whole video chat window to full screen. The new video features are only available for Yahoo Messenger 10 users and the regular webcam broadcasting hasn't changed. UPDATE: Since some users were having problems with the new video call feature Yahoo has some tips for getting everything working detailed here.
The other big feature introduced is the Updates view inside the main messenger window. Yahoo has been pushing its new Updates feature for a while now, with the current version of Yahoo Messenger displaying the status updates of users' contacts from a variety of sources aggregated by their Yahoo Profiles. A large number of services are supported, with content coming from blogs, Twitter, Last.fm etc. The updates now get their own view and users can easily start a conversation with a friend in this view as well as filter the updates to show only those coming from certain friends.
A number of smaller features and improvements have also been added. Now users can choose their language from the sign-in screen with 16 languages available, and there are also new ways of sorting the contact list, for example by activity or availability.
Yahoo! Messenger 10 Beta is available for download here.