10 Comments

Summary:

Skype not only patched a security hole in the Android client, it added 3G calling as well, which I’m testing as a primary voice solution. More Amazon tablet tidbits appear, lending credence to a new device soon. Meanwhile, the T-Mobile G-Slate Honeycomb tablet gets a review.

android-this-week

Android device owners using Skype’s software are one step closer to parity with their iPhone counterparts this week. An updated Skype client for Android handsets adds calling over 3G mobile broadband networks, while at the same time, patching a potential security hole in the application. Apple devices still have one key Skype advantage, however, as the iOS version supports video calling while Android owners are still waiting for that feature.

The new 3G calling functionality has the potential to turn my 7-inch Galaxy Tab Android tablet into a full-time phone. Since I carry the tablet everywhere and it replicates the same features as my Nexus One handset — minus voice calls — Skype could make up the difference. For now, I’m forwarding my incoming Google Voice calls to a Skype phone number as a test. Incoming calls have been hit-or-miss as they sometimes don’t ring on the tablet. Outgoing calls over 3G have worked perfectly, so I’m not giving up quite yet.

The Amazon Android tablet rumors gained more credence this week when Peter Rojas of gdgt shared information that Samsung is building a device for Amazon. At this point, there’s little doubt that Amazon is at least entertaining the notion as all of the pieces are in place to provide a compelling mobile experience. The company has a music ecosystem with its MP3 store and Cloud Player software, video-on-demand service and even an Amazon AppStore for Android software.

Until Amazon debuts an Android device, consumers have other Honeycomb tablets to consider. This week, I reviewed the T-Mobile G-Slate, an 8.9-inch 4G tablet with 3D video capabilities. The dual-cameras for 3D capture work reasonably well, but without a 3D television, require passive glasses (included) to view. Honeycomb runs well on the Nvidia-powered tablet and the tablet makes good use of T-Mobile’s fast HSPA+ data network.

The application catalog for Honeycomb tablets is still lacking however, which could mean consumers take a “wait and see” approach with the G-Slate and other Android tablets. Honeycomb itself still needs some work as it appears that hardware has outpaced software: applications still crash from time to time and devices sometimes exhibit slowness. I suspect Google is working on updates to correct these issues, which might be just in time for Amazon’s tablet debut. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Amazon tablet featured at Google’s I/O developer event next month.

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  1. Hi Kevin, have you had any issues with the charging rate for the review G-Slate unit you have? I picked up a G-Slate on the 20th and the unit I have takes about an hour to charge from 92% back up to 100%. Which is slower than my iPad 2 and my Xoom and yet I’m using it’s 10W charger brick. :-<

    I picked up a Motorola Oasis off Amazon this week and I'm experimenting with using this with the G-Slate and Xoom to connect with Skype. As you say: the experiment continues. :-)

  2. What sort of impact to battery life have you seen having the skype app open? I am hoping that the google talk android client get the phone integration soon but that may be a pipe dream…

    –sent from xoom while traveling to see family

  3. My only curiosity would be to how Amazon’s stock is going to be affected after the recent thingy with their servers and letting down their customers. I think Amazon will rebound from it, but I’m curious as to how they will redeem themselves…

  4. Hi Kevin,
    I’ve set up Skype on my Verizon Galaxy Tab and paid the $60 annual fee to buy a phone number. In Google Voice I then set that up as just another number that Google voice will ring. Plus you can set Skype up to show the Caller ID of my google voice number. This makes it completely transparent to anyone receiving or sending a voice call to me. Works great!

    1. Yup, that’s exactly what I’ve done as well, but I’m not getting the incoming GV calls on a consistent basis just yet. :(

      1. Kevin,
        Have u tried sipdroid in conjunction with pbxes.org on your tab? They have a trunk line set up using jabber that is supposed to work with GV Chat to allow u to receive and send voice calls. Requires android vs >2.0 which I do not have. Stuck on 1.6 with my G1.Was toying with idea of replacing G1 with a tab if either Skype or this would allo w using tab for voice calls.

  5. Doesn’t Google seem to be in some kind of stalemate with their google-voice and streaming plans?
    I mean years after and Google Voice is still just in the States. It hasn’t even invaded our cold border up in Canada! I would have been eager to replace my Skype subscriptions with a GV dialing plan. Not to speak that they too are not yet in the video call game. Disappointing the say the least. I think that Google would have made Android a far better place with a gtalk+GV+video integrated into a unified on the go service. If not them then who?!
    Skype … well them fools still charge me for landline only subscription to Israel (with no good real solution for cells) and video calls are yet to be even tested on my galaxy S. Even the bare almost application as is it today – is taking 3-5% of my battery (alone) per hour in IDLE more. Which is crazy.
    What we need is a data only number, text, voice and video over it. Everywhere. How difficult can that be please. PLEASE.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Tal Monday, April 25, 2011

      +1 to all of that! :)

  6. Also Kevin – how do you answer calls pls? BT headset? Is it handy/useful/quick enough?

    1. Kevin C. Tofel tal Monday, April 25, 2011

      Unfortunately, Skype for Android doesn’t officially support BT headsets. It does work with some models, but not all, which is a bummer. I’ll have to try a few of the ones I have and get back to you. For now, I’m just using the device in a “speakerphone” mode for testing – call quality is pretty solid (even to folks on the other end of the line) but of course, this isn’t an ideal long-term solution.

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