Skype App for iPhone will Launch Today, Blackberry in May

Skype, the Internet calling service that has more than 400 million users around the world, is aggressively moving onto mobile phones. The Luxembourg-based company, a division of eBay, plans to announce on Tuesday that it will make its free software available immediately for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch and, beginning in May, for various BlackBerry phones, made by Research in Motion.

Landing a day earlier than predicted, Skype's official iPhone client will show its green 'n' white face in the App Store tomorrow. The other conspicuously neglected market, BlackBerry owners, can expect a client by May.

Welcome screen
At long last, Skype has come to the iPhone. (Credit: Skype)

The iPhone client feature set is more or less what we've come to expect from Skype mobile apps: free Skype-to-Skype calls, SkypeOut support, pretty interface integration (they went with the iPhone aesthetic over the Skype desktop aesthetic, thankfully) and instant messaging to other users. You can even snap a profile picture from within the app. The app will also support 2G iPod Touches with external mics.

But! For those of you who held onto the vain hope that an official client might be able to somehow skirt the universal App Store ban on voice over IP over 3G (VoIPo3G?), forget it—you won't be able to Skype unless you're connected to a wireless network, and text messaging has been entirely excluded. You can't even top up your SkypeOut account or purchase other services like voicemail, which, by the way, can't be accessed from the app.

Not to poop on Skype's party, but this announcement leaves me with questions—specifically, why should I download this? Third party apps like Fring picked up Skype's slack a long time ago, and lump in multiprotocol IMing, something which gives them a distinct advantage over this official client on the one-app-at-a-time-please iPhone. Skype told CNET that their app will have better voice quality (and probably lower latency), but aside from that was unable to offer many significant advantages over other apps.

Scott Durchslag, Skype’s chief operating officer, said he did not think the limitations on using Skype on the iPhone would be a big drawback for users, since Wi-Fi networks have become common.

Screen Shots:

Welcome screen Signing in Contacts

Contact details Chats Conversations

Incoming calls Call controls Conference calling

History My Info Avatar

However, he said he hoped Apple and AT&T would relax restrictions and let people make Skype calls anywhere they roamed. “We think these things should work on any device, any network, at any time,” he said. [CNET and NYTImages from CNET]


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