Skype calling on web-enabled cell phones seems like a match made in heaven, as Nokia, WinMo, and Android users already know. Now iPhones and Blackberries can finally get in on the action. This is a real deal Skype app ? not some fake version or crazy workaround that makes callers sound like they?re in an echo chamber.
The app takes several of the features of the desktop version and then sort of ?iPhone-izes? them. There are tabs at the bottom part of the screen labeled ?Contacts,? ?Chats,? ?Calls,? ?History,? and ?My Info,? which lets you update your status (á la Facebook). The phone numbers come from the phone's address book, so there aren't any duplicates or multiples sets of contacts for each program, and features like SkypeOut calling and even limited conference calling is available (though the latter only works if you?re invited by someone else and not the initiator).
Since it uses VOIP (voice-over-internet-protocol), the app only works over Wifi (not cellular). The Skype's Android app can place calls via 3G, making me wish this incarnation offered a choice of Wifi or cellular. Still, it's pretty cool for international travelers especially, so they don't have to place pricy calls abroad through international roaming plans or rented phones. And it works for iPod Touch users, who will be able to use their devices like working VOIP phones. (Earbuds with inline mics are required.)
What's missing are SMS, file transfer, voicemail, and video and conference-call initiation, but hopefully some of these will show up in later versions. But the big question on my mind is whether the app needs to stay open constantly or not. Push notifications are coming in the 3.0 update, so it would be great if it played nicely with that. Only time will tell, though.
The iPhone app debuts tomorrow in the App Store for free. Blackberry users will have to wait until May. According to an Engadget tip, PCWorld got it early for review purposes, so hop over here if you want to check it out.