Review: Skype for iPhone. Verdict: Awesome.

145 Comments

UPDATED: In a few short hours, you will be able to download the native Skype iPhone client and install it on your iPhones and iPod Touch devices. And when you do, you’ll be able to replicate almost all of Skype’s functions. The reason I say almost is because the iPhone version of the app doesn’t support video.

When I got my hands on an early version of the app a few hours ago, I simply installed it on a borrowed iPhone, signed in using my existing Skype username and password, and I was able to start using it within seconds. It’s an attractive and almost perfect adaptation of the desktop version of Skype; the user interface is intuitive, simple and easy to navigate. And it offers a number of pleasant surprises, such as the ability to attach photos to your contacts by way of the iPhone’s built-in camera. You can also toggle between all your contacts and just those online, and adding new contacts is pretty simple.

Of course, what really matters about this Skype app is its communication quality. To that end, a call I made to a friend in Israel sounded better than a regular mobile phone call. Few of the calls I made got dropped, and those that were can be attributed more to network congestion than to Skype. Update: This free app only works on Wi-Fi, not 3G networks.

It helps that we have a lot of bandwidth here in the office, which is always good when making Skype calls. I placed a couple of SkypeOut calls as well, and while the quality was good, it wasn’t as clear as Skype-to-Skype calls. The SkypeIn calls worked as advertised for me as well. I was most impressed with the Skype IM, which is the primary way I stay in touch with my friends in Europe and Asia. I almost forgot how fast I can type on the iPhone, even despite the touchscreen.

I only had a problem when I started chatting with more than one person at a time, as I had to constantly toggle between them. But at least the chat icon in the navigation bar was there to tell me how many chats I had waiting for me.

Many of you responded to my initial post about this Skype iPhone app by wondering how it would impact the iPhone’s battery. Well it’s been about three hours and no substantial impact has been made to the battery yet. Of course, that might change once I start incessantly calling people. On the iPod Touch, things are not going that great; Skype is running down the battery pretty fast.

My Verdict: For those of you that use Skype on a daily basis and own an iPhone, this could very quickly become the simplest way to make long-distance calls. And I’m predicting a big upsurge in Skype as an “IM client” with this release.

To Skype developers who worked on this product, I have two words: Great work! Of course, it would be even better if you got it launched on the BlackBerry so that I could use it on my Curve 8900.

If you have any more questions, please let me know. I will do my best to answer them.

145 Comments

mv

I think the biggest omission in this version is lack of SMS. I send a lot of international SMSes and the Skype desktop client does a great job with configuring such that the SMS “comes” from your mobile number even if sent via Skype. I can usually send 3-4 for the price of one regular SMS.

Nikiru

Hi Om..

I live in japan n could download skype app early this morning…It works amazingly fine. I could make few calls.
And chat also. I turned on the PC and started skype on it…on both (PC & iPhone) chat messages were getting displayed :)) call it a bug ..but still i just love this app…right from GUI its same Skype from normal PC.
Thanks for sharing information

Nikiru

Jim

What am I doing wrong — I can’t seem to make use of my bluetooth headphone with Skype. I have the Apple bluetooth made for iPhone, shouldn’t that work?

Jon

I don’t think that you can use a bluetooth headset with Skype for the iPhone yet. That’s awfully lame. They really need to get on that…

Ben

Few additonal thoughts after downloading and trying skype client:

1. the tones on the skype dial pad have an annoying slight delay so it feels like the app is responding more slowly to the touch (using original iphone, not 3G). You almost feel like you’re in a bad lip synch movie. Maybe response time is not noticeable on 3G.

2. Most of my calls will use skype out, not skype, which means I’d like to see my iphone contact list as easily as my skype contacts. The skype contact list is 2 clicks away (counting launching Skype). The iphone contact list is one additional click away because you have to select the phone icon first. Contrast that with how desktop skype works, both contact lists are in one UI.

3. Skype takes longer to load than iphone app (which makes sense in part because it goes online to get contact info)

4. Phone numbers dialed in skype call history do not resolve against the iphone contact list. So even if it’s a phone number of someone in your iphone contact list it won’t show that person’s name, it just shows the number.

5. Unlike iPhone app. pressing Call button does not recall last made call

6. Call speaker option does not show up until the call is connected. In contrast iPhone app lets you put the iPhone on speaker once the call is ringing

7. No access to iPhone favorites–perhaps not surprising–though it does give access to iPhone contact groups

8. Couldn’t figure out how to create favorites for Skype

9. Can import phone numbers from iPhone into Skype phone book–but i much prefer how desktop client shows contact list for skype and Mac address book in same window, just sorted separately

10. As a weird test, i tried to call own cell phone from skype from my own cell phone. Don’t ask me why. Just wondered what would happen. Not surprisingly it “works” (iphone app rings), but when i tried to answer it of the course the call ends because skype app quits once iphone app launches. OK, that test was inane!

11. Can’t seem to set default view of my iphone contact groups. Always defaults to All Contacts.

gnu2tux

Yeah, it’s extremely buggy. Iphone 3g – it crashes at least every minute making it one of the least usable apps in the app store. Methinks Apple/Skype didn’t do any proper QA on this one!

Krishna Baidya

I am so far quite happy with FRING (on iphone) which allows me to chat not only to my skype buddies but also to host of other messaging platforms such as MSN, yahoo, ICQ, googletalk etc etc …. I think its quite cool with its SIP client to make VOIP calls over wi-fi using my iphone.

So, I’m not that impressed or going ga ga over the skype app for iphone. However, it really surprises me that skype took so long to bring on their official version. Wonder why? Any thoughts???

zahadum

in the long run SIP is more important for voip than skype is.

skype is proprietary – and skype doesn’t make much effort to integrate with the ptsn … there is no inbound number available in most local markets around the world, despite the pleas from customers year after year.

FRING already supports skype on the iPhone … and it also supports SIP, so it is a more versitile voip client.

While voip on iPhone might apply some useful pressure on the the crazy tariffs charged by the carriers ($130 for voice, data, long distance), it is the itouch that will recieve the really big impact of voip -in a stingy market where the next 25% cohort of featurephone subscribers looks around for a practical smartphone.

a voip enabled an itouch is a $250 upfront cost with only $50 annual committment … that is a really big deal.

of course if apple really wants to have a game-changer with voip, then apple would introduce ‘mesh’ networking technology (with a firmware upgrade to the ‘airport’).

THAT would change /everything/.

zahadum

after trying to use Fring for a while i now withdraw my endorsement of it.

it is totally unuseable on any/every wifi network i can find (on all versions of osx mobile, and on two different 3G and one 3Gs).

upstreams is inaudible.

worst of all fring INSISTS on *NOT* having a revenue model, so it cant afford to hire engineers or tech suport to fix horrible auido quality.

fring’s SOP is to blame the customers voip gateway instead of accepting responsibility for their own mediocre engineering.

fring has no telemetry engine so it cant even debug/log where the bottlenecks are actually located.

fring is a total FAIL (and its UIis graceless, ineffecient, and awkward).

—- however, that doesnt take away from the *principle* that SIP should be preferred to (proprietary) skype! …

… however, if skype were to FINALLY (all the years later) actually get some local numbers (outside of usa market) i would probably just give in & give up a standards based approach.

at this point i am prepared to be al liitle bit pragmatic & agnontsic about “standards” if i cac actually have a product that will work!!

(I thought SIPphone would be a solution – at least they charge for their product! – but there is not much difference my callers can experienc … despite what seems to be a GUI that suggests a vastly superior engineering effort as compared to fring),

sigh.

Ben

> For those of you that use Skype on a daily basis and own an iPhone, this could very quickly become the simplest
> way to make long-distance calls.

I use Skype to make long distance calls on a daily basis. (I sometimes even use it to make local calls because it’s so easy). I also have an iPhone.

What i don’t understand is why having skype on the iPhone would make it become the “simplest way to make long-distance calls” as opposed to, for example, Skype on the computer.

With Skype on my computer I don’t have to hold a phone to my ear during the call
I don’t have to juggle another device to start and stop calls
I don’t have to worry about running the battery down on my iPhone

So, while I think it’s great that Skype is on the iPhone, I don’t see how it will make my iPhone the device of choice to make my LD calls. I will continue to use my MacBook Pro to do that.

There are two circumstances where i can see preferring to use the Skype iPhone client:

– when i’m connected to the internet via VPN and can’t use skype reliably (not often but it happens)

– when i’m offsite and have access to a good wireless network but have bad cell phone reception

I guess a 3rd circumstance might be

– when using my computer is not practical–for example, when pacing while on a call in office or doing chores at home–times when i don’t want to be tied down to being within speaking range of my computer.”

Om Malik

Ben sitting on your couch and logged into your WiFi you could easily send and receive calls without being in front of you computer. It is simple, like in the way now checking email is simple to do on an iPHone/Bberry without running to a computer.

Terry

Found on: http://tinyurl.com/iskypereview

Important solutions to the COMPLAINERS:

1. Complaining that you can’t use Skype on 3G?

* Just Jailbreak your iphone and install voipover3g app from cydia. Jailbreakers will be able to save their minutes whenever they want because this app makes the iPhone think that it is on wifi all the time.

2. Complaining that you can’t run skype in the background while using another application?

Visit http://tinyurl.com/iskypereview for the rest of the post….

Ashu Joshi

I believe the second generation iTouch uses a newer/faster ARM Core compared to the 3G iPhone – may be that is reason of poor battery life on the iTouch? I know my iTouch dies on me sooner then the original iPhone

Dan

Kris–Interesting. Yep, I bet it will be different with 3.0. So for now, limited functionality to receive calls, unless you leave the phone (and app) always on. Will probably be best used for making calls when in foreign countries and near a Wifi hotspot.

Kris

I just downloaded the official version in Australia, so it’s definitely available internationally from the get-go.

I’ve also confirmed that you can’t receive calls or chats unless the app is open. If I don’t have it open, I’m not “signed in” for anyone else using Skype. I wonder if that will change once the iPhone OS 3.0 is released and we finally have the ability to push notifications in the background.

JM

“Few of the calls I made got dropped”

Can you please elaborate on dropped calls? What percentage was dropped? and Is that consistent with skype desktop app?

Wifiguy

Omguy, how does the Skype wifi experience on iPhone comparento your uma experience on the Blackberry 8900 at home device?

Buzz

Will you, e.g. Om, be able to get Cricket play by play from your pals at the matches in India, using Skype on the iPhone?

Alper Çugun

Any idea if it will be available internationally from the get-go? I will be spectacularly annoyed if this (too) is US App Store only at first.

What is the idea anyway with region coding applications?

Dan

One issue–do you have to leave the phone on all the time, running the Skype app? If not, then how can you possibly receive calls on it? It would seem that this really is only useful for making Skype calls from the phone, not receiving them. Or am I missing something?

Matt

@Dan – agreed – how do you receive Skype calls on the iPhone if the app isn’t loaded? Sounds good otherwise.

Max

Great review. I’m looking forward to this app!

One question: Is there a way to buy Skype Credit (for outgoing calls to landline numbers) from within the app?

Mauricio Ayala

Yes you can “Buy Skype Credit” Buy an “Online Number” and buy a “Voicemail”.

Denisa

Hi, Can you use Skype Landline numbers on this ? That would then allow any none Skype users to call me on a generic local number that Skype sells for the cost of a landline. This feature does not work on the 3 network as they are too worried about customers not needing any credit.

Dan York

Om, nice review, and I’m pleased to hear about the battery situation. Question for you – did you try it with any multi-user groupchats? Or with any (multi-user) public chats? That is the single biggest thing I am personally looking for in the Skype for iPhone app.

Jim Kass

Been waiting for this! Thanks for the news Om!

I do all my business calling with Skype today, and much of IM convos too. Having the ability to do so away from my desktop – great news! Wi-Fi only is a bummer… but not a blocker.

Incidentally, for those who are just using IM and not voice, I like Palringo which is a good multi-client and even works over EDGE.

Arjun

So how exactly does the current version work? do you need to keep skype on all the time to receive calls ? (if so, then you can’t use the phone for anything else as switching would kill skype). Or does it use the new ‘push notification’ system of SDK 3.0 (I doubt that) which might allow skype to wake up on incoming skype call?

Hardeep Singh Dang

hey Om,

U broke the news earlier that its coming and its now here for Iphone. but do U think Symbian Client ia also coming soon. I mean Windows mobile is upported already, Iphone now and Blackberry soon. So Symbian app cant be far behind. Of course they have a Java app but something even better like truphone or Fring?

is that coming too?

Om Malik

Hardeep

I am told they will introduce the Blackberry client before the Symbian client.

When is that going to happen? My guess is Summer 2009.

Cheers

Marin

@Curtis
I don’t think AT&T will mind that much because it’s Wi-Fi only. Most people still use the majority of their voice minutes on the go, and there are multiple other VoIP apps in the App Store.

Nice review Om, I’m just curious if you’ve run into the limitations yet (no voicemail, or conference calls).

Curtis

@Marin,

Thanks for the point on voice usage on the go. I wasn’t aware that the usage difference was notable.

Best,

Curtis

Rasmus Scheuer-Larsen

Great review. I look forward to Skype bigtime!

I also agree with you on the IM aspect. I think for steady Skype users, already it’s their favourite IM tool on their computer, killing of ex. MSN. And why should anything be different on the iPhone :-)

Br,
Rasmus

Bryce

Hey Om, I’m really excited to hear this news. This could disrupt a lot of telephony models and increase competition in the mobile market.

Are you able to make calls over the iPhone’s data connection or is Wi-Fi required?

What, would you say, is the ratio of calls on the skype-out test that were dropped versus received?

Thanks,
Bryce

Om Malik

I think this is not going to be that much of an issue since it is only going over WiFi. If it started to fly over 3G, then things would get interesting to be honest.

H

Hello Om,

Any issues with contacts and not being able to get uploaded to the iphone app? I am unable to load my contacts..

Thanks,
H

Mark Jaquith

I would imagine that this ban is in Apple’s contract with these carriers. I doubt their ban on VOIP apps working over cellular data connections is just a company policy.

bren

I am trying to decide between a Nokia N810 and I-phone for when I travel. I assume you have to get a plan through At&T with the I-phone or touch to get skype? Just trying to figure out the cheapest way to keep in touch around the world.

Thanks!

Mark Jaquith

No plan is required for Skype to work. Indeed it will not work (for calls) over a cellular connection — only WiFi. If you’re not using the “phone” portion of the iPhone, there’s not much sense in paying a premium for an unlocked iPhone over just getting an iPod touch — except that you’ll have to use a wired headset to make calls with the iPod touch over Skype — and the iPhone comes with a camera.

monal

nice, tomorrow I will start making calls to my parents who are visiting India to test the voice quality against the desktop client……exciting news for sure.

Pat Phelan

nice review OM
started up the iPhone for first time in 6 weeks to get this app tomorrow.
looking forward to trying it
Blackberry release is 24th May (I think)

Daniel

First time in six weeks? Why do you have one if you dont use it?

BMorahan

I am Looking to update my Phone. Is the i phone to be up updated or am I buying old technology today by buying the i phone.

Geoff

DON’T USE THIS CLIENT!

It looks like their security sucks. I downloaded it 24 hours ago, logged in and now I find that my Skype password and registered email addy have “changed” – presumably to something Ukranian! Oh, and of course there is money missing from my bank account

Leave this sucker alone till Skype can spell ‘security’!!!

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