Just as we are closing out the year and picking our BEST Apps of 2010, Skype slides an update in just in time. Skype is known for allowing people to voice chat and video chat around the globe for free! That's right. If you have a Skype account and I have a Skype account we can talk for as long as we want over the internet for free. They even added video chatting from Skype to Skype as well. The only thing that was really missing from this was allowing people to video chat on mobile devices such as the shinny new iPhone 4 with its front facing camera. That update just hit the scene this week and I had a chance to check it out. While I love the quality of Apple's FaceTime (it was one of my main reasons for upgrading to an iPhone 4), the thing that keeps me from using it more often is that you have to be on a WiFi connection to use it. There are plenty of times where I'm in transit that I would do a quick FaceTime call if I could. Now I can with Skype!
Skype Video Calling works over 3G too
This is the big thing that separates Skype from Apple's FaceTime. Skype allows video chatting over WiFi or 3G, from iDevice to iDevice or iDevice to Mac or PC. Although Apple did bring out a FaceTime desktop client for Mac (still in beta), there's no hint of a Windows version. However, there are millions of uses using Skype every day on both Mac and PC that you'll now not only be able to talk with, but also video chat with. I did a quick test with my sister and we connected immediately. Then I tested it with Jason Lykins. I purposely turned off WiFi to see it work over 3G. There's no question that FaceTime's video quality is better and you would expect it to be since it requires WiFi. With that said I found the Skype quality to be totally acceptable over 3G (YMMV). What was more important to me was the voice quality while video chatting. I know that sounds weird at first, but what good is any call if you can't hear each other? Skype did the right thing by focusing on voice quality first and video second. This combination works well. You get all the usual things that you would expect. If you're using an iPhone 4 or 4th gen iPod touch you can toggle between the front camera, rear camera or no camera. If you're on an iPhone 3GS you can use the rear camera. If you're on an iPad you can see the other person and as soon as iPad's have built-in cameras I'm sure that Skype (OK, I'm hoping they will) will come out with an iPad native version.
The lack of One more thing…
Although I'm very happy to see this Skype update and I'd recommend it to any Skype user or person that wants to stay in touch while on the go, there is one thing still missing from this update! All of my other VoIP apps support Bluetooth headsets and that support still seems to be missing from Skype. I don't know what it is about them adding this basic feature since all the other apps I use have it, yet it's still not there. Otherwise, Skype away! This update rocks!