From the horse’s mouth
A common annoyance with instant messaging or social-networking usage is all your devices beeping and lighting up when your correspondent replies to you while you are chatting with them. This is typically because most of us want to install native client-side applications for our favourite instant-messaging services and social networks on each of our devices and have them logged in to the services at the same time.
Skype are tackling this in an application-wide manner by determine which actual Skype client you are actually interacting with at a particular time during a conversation. This then allows the service to mute all other Skype apps that are currently logged in to reduce this problem when it comes to your text messages.
The behaviour will return to normal when you aren’t interacting with Skype or when a call notification comes in so you don’t miss conversation opportunities. A question that can be raised with this functionality is what if you want to “jump” from one device to another such as to instigate your text conversation on your laptop but want to continue it on your tablet which you use while lying on the couch. Here, if you are starting a reply on the second device such as the tablet in the above situation, the app on the second device should detect the activity and enable its audio prompts.
It may be easy to think of having platform-wide methods of detecting actual interaction so as to, for example, squelch other devices’ alert sounds when you are chatting. But this would have to be achieved on an application level with the application’s server or host knowing which device you are interacting with when you operating that device due to the requirement to work in a cross-platform environment.
At least Skype have answered a situation that ICQ and other instant-messaging systems haven’t anticipated – one owning many different devices for surfing the Internet and having them monitor instant-messaging services.