Skype for iPhone Available on App Store

BY Jason

Published 30 Mar 2009

Engadget is reporting that Skype for iPhone is now officially available on the App Store in Japan just like we had reported last week.

It is expected that Skype will officially announce their iPhone app at CTIA Wireless, a large mobile industry trade event in Las Vegas that starts this Wednesday (1st April, 2009) as speculated by Om Malik of GigaOM Network.

Skype for iPhone will be officially available on the App Store on Tuesday (which is why it's already available on the App Store in Japan).

CNET got a chance to have a look at the iPhone app, so here are some of the details:

  • Skype for iPhone will be available for free on the App Store.
  • Skype's iPhone app looks more like iPhone's Phone app and not like Skype 4.0 for Windows. I think that's a good thing as it would make the app that much more intuitive.
  • The user interface is well organized.
  • It uses iPhone's ability to add filters; for example: to sort your contacts alphabetically, or by who's online.
  • You will be able to make free VOiP calls to your Skype contacts.
  • You will be able to chat with your Skype contacts.
  • You will be able to make Skype calls to landlines and mobile phones using Skype credit.
  • The iPhone app will work only over Wi-Fi which is obviously due to limitation of iPhone's SDK that's imposed by the carriers. However, you should be able to use iPhone hacks like VOiPover3G to make SkypeOut calls over a data network.
  • You can take your photo from the iPhone's camera or use one from your iPhone's camera roll to use it as your Avatar.
  • You will be able to receive calls to join a conference call, however you won't be able to make a conference call. (Skype's Engineer hopes this can be addressed in iPhone firmware 3.0).
  • You won't be able to send SMS messages.
  • You won't be able to purchase Skype credit directly from within the iPhone app. You can use Skype's auto recharge feature to workaround this feature. I doubt Skype will use the In-app Purchase feature that was introduced in iPhone firmware 3.0 as Apple takes 30% commission which would make VOiP very expensive for users.
  • You won't be able to take a second call when you are already on a call.

Here are some of the screenshots of Skype's iPhone app (courtesy CNET):

Skype for iPhone  
Skype for iPhone

Skype for iPhone  
Skype for iPhone

Skype for iPhone  
Skype for iPhone

Skype for iPhone  
Skype for iPhone

Another problem with Skype's iPhone app is that you won't be able to
run it in the background due to limitations of iPhone's SDK which is
quite important to receive calls. I don't think the Push Notification Service introduced in iPhone firmware 3.0 will be a good workaround for Skype's iPhone app.

But I'm quite excited about Skype's iPhone app and if the call quality
using their iPhone app is anywhere close to Skype 4.0 for Windows then
I think they have a winner.

So what about iPhone apps from competitors such as Fring, Nimbuzz etc which allow you to make Skype calls. They were decent apps but they used a workaround to make Skype calls. Kurt Thywissen, the principal engineer for Skype for iPhone explains:

"what the other apps use is a workaround that requires them to channel
calls through a server and transcode audio, resulting in poorer-quality
calls than Skype can do in its own app."

I agree which is why I have always been hoping that Skype releases their own iPhone app.

In case, Skype for iPhone is already available on the App Store in your country, please drop us a line in the comments section below.

Update 1:

metromepmb has just informed us the comments that Skype is available on the Australian App Store as well. Thanks metromepmb!

Update 2:

Jason has sent us an email to tell us its now available on the UK App Store. Thanks Jason!

You can check if it's available on the App Store in your country by using this direct iTunes link. Thanks

metromepmb for the heads up!

Update 3:

Skype for iPhone is now available on most of the App Stores. Thanks folks for the heads up.

I tried it out but it out, the user interface is very simple and intuitive but seems to be quite buggy as it keeps crashing though the call quality appears to be good for the time, you can get it to work.

Kavian, one of our readers (thanks Kavian), pointed out that the crashing issues could be because of custom keyboard like Clippy installed on your jailbroken iPhone. It seems to have solved the problem for Thrawn. 

However, in my case I had to remove Mobile Substrate (Launch Cydia-> Tap on Search -> Type Mobile Substrate in the search box -> Tap on Mobile Substratre -> Tap on the modify button and hit Remove and then Confirm) to stop Skype for iPhone from crashing on my jailbroken iPhone 3G. But its used by jailbreak apps such as Winterboard, Dock2, Clippy, Lockdown, Five Icon Dock etc so they might stop working. Let's hope Skype resolves the crashing issue soon.

Update 4:

Skype for iPhone: Tip to Fix Crashing Issue on Jailbroken iPhone; Make VOiP Calls over Data Network

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts about Skype for iPhone based on the details mentioned above.

Disclaimer: iPhone Hacks is an affiliate of Skype.

[via Engadget, CNET]