Skype is a software system that allows you to have chat conversations to anybody else with Skype around the world for free. The main features of the Skype software are an instant messaging system, voice chat and video chat (video not available on the mobile version). The Skype iPhone application also allows you to alter your Skype account “My Info” so that you can keep everybody up to date on your current status and what you’re doing no matter where you are. Although it is less powerful than its computer counterpart, the Skype iPhone application is quite an impressive piece of programming.
At a quick glance of the contacts tab you are able to see if your friends are online, offline, away from their computer or forwarding calls. If you have a lot of friends there is also a search feature so you can quickly find them, check their status and send them a message. The interface is well designed to easily allow you to keep track of all your current conversations as well as keep a history of old conversations if you wish. The downside however to the messaging feature is its lack of push notification. As of the current version you have to have the application open in order to know if anybody is trying to chat with you. If the application is closed, there is no sort of notification of new incoming messages. This is a feature that I hope they will add in the near future. There can also be some problems if you are logged into your Skype account both from your computer and your iPhone. I found that sometimes messages where only sent to the computer or the iPhone and not both, resulting in missed messages. This however can be easily avoided by only being logged into one device at a time.
Although video chat is not supported on the mobile version, voice chat still is. With Skype you are able to make outgoing calls as well as receive incoming voice calls from any Skype user all over the world for free. If you have Skype credit or pay for the unlimited packages available, you can also make and receive calls from and to landlines and cell phones as well. Although the voice chat sound quality is not as clear as a regular phone call, I must admit that it is pretty good. Through the test calls that I made there was very little interference and I was able to hear everything in my conversations. I made test calls both locally in America as well as worldwide to Japan with no sound quality differences between the two. There is the ability to send SMS text messages also. However, please note that the downside to the voice and SMS message feature is that you must be connected to a WiFi connection. As of the current version there is no support for voice or SMS over Edge or 3G.
As a whole this application is a great one and I use it every day. It helps me keep in touch with both my local friends and my friends from all over the world for little or no cost. The few bugs it has I’m sure will be improved on soon and I would recommend this application to anybody who likes to chat with people.
Skype requires the iPhone OS 2.1 or later and is compatible with both the iPhone and iPod Touch.