Skype is set to launch its iPhone application March 31st bringing its
much-anticipated Net-based phone service to Apple’s mobile platform.
With the Skype iPhone app, users will be able to make free calls using
Wi-Fi to other Skype users as well as use their Skype accounts to make
reduced price calls to traditional landline phones.
Skype announced its iPhone application will be available on Tuesday for free,
with a version for the BlackBerry available in May. Mobile versions of Skype are
already available for Nokia, Windows Mobile, and Google Android phones.
From what we can tell, the Skype for iPhone looks great; but it has some
drawbacks. One disappointment is that users won’t be able to place
calls over cellular networks, but only via Wi-Fi. Still, for
international callers especially, Skype’s iPhone app will save callers
money adds the convenience of allowing Skype users to use their
iPhone handset for Skype calls.
Looking more like a traditional iPhone app rather than the desktop Windows
counterpart most of its 400 million users are used to, Skype for iPhone features
five tabs at the bottom of the screen, displaying contacts, chats, a calling panel, call history, and
your profile (with Facebook-style status).
Skype for iPhone will use phone numbers directly from your phone’s address book, so no
more nasty duplicated contact lists. It even displays your contacts’
photos (if they have one set up on Skype). Conference calling is
available, but for the moment you can only take part in one if someone
You can also chat with your Skype friends, but unfortunately this is the
only thing (besides seeing who’s online) you can do over a cellular
network. Skype for iPhone places calls only via Wi-Fi, not
differentiating itself much from the other voice apps in the App Store (Skype for Android G1 can place calls over 3G).
Skype for iPhone is still a young app and is short on some of the features its desktop counterpart has.
SMS, video and proper conference calling, file transfer, and voicemail
are missing from this first version, but let’s hope they will make
their way in future versions.
iPod Touch users will also be able to enjoy Skype, but this would require them to purchase a microphone, or headphones with built-in microphones (like the iPhone’s).