April 29, 2010

Android App Review: Skype Mobile

SkypeBlue_512x512The Skype Mobile app made its Anroid Marketplace appearance at the end of March. I initially did not feel compelled to look into it further, not having a smart phone at the time. How things change, I recently became a smartphone owner, having acquired an HTC Droid Eris. Now I had more of a readson to check it out. It is important to note that while the application is in the Android Market, only Verizon devices can see it.

I quickly learned that in order to use Skype on my Eris I had to have an account. The app does not have any way of creating accounts, it just prompts you for your Skype name and password. I paid a visit to the Skype site and downloaded the program for Windows and signed up, It was a painless affair, but this isn't about the Windows program.

Skype_HOLDSkype provides an alternative way to stay in touch with friends and family. The voice over IP program would appear to be a godsend for folks who regularly travel in low cell signal areas, considering the nature of the program. Well, not so fast there! The program has a curiously crippled. The program does not work over WiFi. Let me repeat that, the program does not work over WiFi. This means that if you were hoping to get some extra coverage using wireless networks, you can think again. To take that step further the app will not even open if WiFi is turned on. You must turn it off in order to use it.

So, what is the point? The point is that I can send SMS text messages to other Skype users free of charge, they will not count against my limited Verizon text plan. Also, I can call other Skype users without eating into my Verizon minutes. On the flipside, if I call a regular cell number or a landline my Verizon minutes will be charged as it switches from data to the voice network.

Another big thing is the low rates that you can call internationally. This does not affect me, but for those who regularly call friends and family abroad, this can greatly help the bottom line and allow you to keep in closer contact with the lower international rates. These rates are paid for with Skype credit which can be purchased through their site. Much like starting up an account, credit cannot be purchased in the app. You can check your balance but to purchase more you are redirected to Skype.com (which is not very well designed for mobile use).

The app is easy to use and loads quickly. You have three main tabs to start, Contacts, Evens, and Call Phones. Your device's menu button gives you access to settings, your profile, and options to change your status or add a contact. Voice quality is good and if they were to add WiFi as an option the app would be that much stronger.

Interested in adding Skype Mobile to your Verizon device? If you have a bar code scanner installed, use it to scan the code at the right to begin the download.code_139_Skype

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