Skype has been a service that has long been known for its video call feature. Unlike its desktop brethren, the Skype Mobile app has always been devoid of any video call features. It was strictly used as an IM and voice calling app. This might have been OK for some but many were scratching their heads as to why Skype would leave out a feature that Skype was pretty well known for.  It’s not like it wasn’t possible to do it seeing as there was already Apple’s own Facetime, Yahoo! Messenger, and Tango that all did video calls in one shape or form. This left many scratching their heads as to why Skype couldn’t do it. That all changed with the latest version of Skype for iPhone because now, Skype not only does video calling from Skype to Skype on the iPhone, but also from iPhone to PC and Mac over 3G and Wifi.

If you’ve used Skype on the iPhone before, the newest version really doesn’t look that much different form the previous versions. In fact, you wouldn’t even know you upgraded just by looking at it. The only indication you have that it is the new version is that in the contacts list, contacts that have video calling enabled will show a little camera icon next to their names. This means that they are able to receive video calls. When you click on their name, you will see a new option to place a video call within the menu. Video calling works like a regular phone call. Just click video call and it rings on the other side. Once they pick up, you can start sharing video.

If you’ve used Yahoo! Messenger before, you know that their video call feature isn’t the best. The video is very small on it and the quality isn’t that great. Skype on the other hand has the advantage here with their new update. The video you see coming from the other end is full screen and can be rotated either landscape or portrait. Same goes for the video you are transmitting. You can also choose to transmit from the front or rear cameras. Skype also seems to be using a slightly better codec as the video quality is much better and seems smoother with less of a lag to it. Over WiFi, the image quality was very clear and had very good audio as well. Over 3G, quality took a slight hit but was still much better than some of the other ones out there.

There are a few things however that the Skype app does not do that the desktop app does. You can’t arrange contacts in to groups from the app itself. You have to do it in the desktop app in order for it to show up in the mobile app in a group. You also can not adjust any of the more advanced user settings in the mobile app.  Skype also has a weird “bug” where some deleted contacts reappear randomly after a while. It’s a known issue and at most, just a minor annoyance.

Other than a few minor issues, Skype for iPhone works great. You can leave it on all the time as it sits in the background and doesn’t seem to contribute to any extra battery drain. I use Skype on my home computer to keep in contact with friends and family but never really used it on the iPhone because it didn’t have video calling features. Now it does and is much more useful to me now. In fact, I keep it on all the time now on my iPhone and am slowly migrating over to it over my other chat apps.

Skype for iPhone is available now in the App Store for free. It works on all devices with iOS 3.0 and higher. iOS 4.0 and up is required for video calling.


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