The rumors were true, Skype indeed will be landing on the iPhone this week. CNet got a preview of the app and likes what they see.
As expected, calls can only be made over Wifi. AT&T is simply too afraid of VOIP taking over their voice business (which it will anyway). We look forward to the day when the mobile carriers are competing to sell us packets fast and cheap…but back to Skype on iPhone.
Skype’s screens are well organized and use the iPhone’s ability to add filters, for instance, to sort your contacts alphabetically, or by who’s online. There’s chatting as well, though Skype’s flagship feature is its VoIP calling that’s free to other Skype users and an inexpensive per-minute fee to landlines. Calls on Skype for iPhone work only if you’re in range of a Wi-Fi network, so your call quality will in part be at the mercy and strength of wireless networks nearby–calls will not work over the cell phone network on the iPhone (but chatting will.) Assuming your connection is solid, you can dial a number or quickly call a contacts stored in your address book. iPod Touch users will need earphones with an embedded mic to talk. During a call, you can mute the line, go on hold, or put the call on speakerphone. In the My Info window, you can follow a link to buy more SkypeOut credit online.
Taking a photo from within Skype to serve as your avatar image, or pulling a picture in from the camera roll are two iPhone-only features that makes use of the phone’s hardware attributes. Another imperfect, but still neat, feature is the ability to accept incoming conference calls. While you won’t be able to initiate a call, we’re told, you will be able to jump on one if a buddy invites you in. We hope the next version includes placing conference calls from the iPhone.
The downsides were:
Skype left a few more skills out of its maiden iPhone voyage. SMS, setting up a conference calling group, purchasing SkypeOut credit directly, and being able to field a second incoming Skype call are a few. File transferring and getting Skype voicemail native on the phone are two more. We expect to see at least two of these added in the next version, but we’ll hope for more.
We really like what we see and especially like the fact that it will work on the second generation iPod touch. We’ll let you know when it hits the app store. IT is expected by Tuesday but could hit the customary App store delays.