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Free Skype Client Lands On the iPhone 150

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the not-just-build-it-and-they-will-come dept.
CNet is reporting that a free Skype client will finally be landing on the iPhone this week. Unfortunately some are saying that it seems many of the "critical" pieces of functionality are still missing. While the Skype engineers claim their native client will offer better audio quality (because there is no need to route through another server and transcode audio) they are still missing text messaging, file transfers, and integrated voice mail. Since the iPhone does not allow for multiple programs running concurrently, many are expecting existing multi-function apps like Fring and NimBuzz to continue their reign at the top.
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Free Skype Client Lands On the iPhone

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  • If this is so it will not last long, AT&T will make sure of that in the States.
    • by CompMD (522020)

      Its funny, I've had a full featured Skype client running on my Windows Mobile powered HTC Apache on the Sprint network for a few years now. And I can use the 3G connection for Skype calls. Why people keep going crazy about the iPhone is completely beyond comprehension.

    • I think some of the Apple Hater froth around your mouth got into your eyes, as you seem to have missed the fact that the iPhone already has other VOIP clients - just not an official Skype client until now. AT&T doesn't care a whit, these all work over WiFi.

    • by Firehed (942385) on Monday March 30, 2009 @03:25PM (#27392311) Homepage

      It only works on WiFi, and Apple has explicitly stated that VOIP over WiFi is allowed - they wouldn't say that if AT&T were going to fight it. It's better for the telcos anyways - you're paying them your monthly rate regardless of whether you use their bandwidth, so the less you use, the more profit they take in.

      • by Martz (861209)

        iPhone owners will love Nokia N95 users then. I could set my phone as a WiFI access point and iPhone users could make Skype calls through my data plan.

        So annoying to see technology come so far and then the next logical step be crippled.

        Being sat on the tube/metro with my iPhone/N95 and wifi + bittorrent would enable huge amounts of data exchange while I'm commuting to work.

        Music concerts and festivals could allow the audience to bluetooth or wifi their music to the DJ, allowing him to queue it up, vote on t

      • I have my iPhone on pre-paid (but no data). NZ$20 a year is all I have to pay to Vodaphone to keep my account in credit. If WiFi had the same coverage as GSM/etc. in my area, VOIP over WiFi would be great. Hopefully that happens, because Vodafone are charging way too much for 3G (and data in general), even if you pay full-price for the phone.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Putting Skype in the iPhone is like duct-taping a pistol to a machine gun.

      • Sure - but the pistol's bullets are free, and the machine gun's bullets are not.

        Wait, this is seeming like a bad analogy...

        • by Warll (1211492)
          Not really, in many video games a machine gun will require ammo but the pistol will not.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday March 30, 2009 @02:07PM (#27391241)

    And this Skype client will never be full-featured because it would take revenue away from the phone company, who profits by selling voice plans. You might be thinking a data-only plan with a Skype client would save you money, but you'd be wrong: Apple doesn't want you to do that. AT&T doesn't either. Or any other wireless provider. Sure, we could invest in a decent wireless data architecture, but why do that when we know we can keep bumping up prices and not improving infrastructure, and then blaming "high consumption users" for the problem. You will pay, like the good consumer you are. Oh yes, you will pay.

    • The rich get rich and the poor get iPhones?

    • by sfcat (872532) on Monday March 30, 2009 @02:21PM (#27391451)
      The gphone has always had a skype client. This makes me wonder how carriers can continue this type of control of the cell phone platforms. Openness seems to have more of an advantage on the cell phones because of the tight control the telcos seem to try to enforce there. Is apple repeating the same mistake they made with the original Mac (trying to control both the hardware and software) vs android (runs on multiple types of hardware)? Or will the telcos desire for control keep the software closed?
      • by eleuthero (812560)
        how is increasing market share against the dominant operating system corporation a mistake?
      • Now lets just get tmobile to actually have a real 3g network (their 3g network is some small it is actually hard to find service anywhere but in major cities) and I would switch in a heart beat.

        I can get verizon 3g service and att 3g service but no tmobile. I'll stick with 3g service thank you.

      • The gphone has always had a skype client.

        No, it doesn't.

        What it's got is a little application that makes a standard telephone call to a Skype server, which gateways your call onto the Skype network. Which means you use up mobile call time as well as Skype calltime. No VOIP is involved.

        Right now we're unlikely to see an aftermarket Skype client for Android because you can't do aftermarket native code on Android yet. (You can only do native code on Android if it gets built in when the phone OS image is made, which means it has to be done by the phone provider... and I'm sure Skype are working on that right now.)

      • by mdm-adph (1030332)

        No -- and I own a G1. It does NOT have a skype client -- it has a fake little program that dials a phone number and then further uses some magic to connect up to the skype network. It isn't true VOIP at all.

      • by tyrione (134248)

        The gphone has always had a skype client. This makes me wonder how carriers can continue this type of control of the cell phone platforms. Openness seems to have more of an advantage on the cell phones because of the tight control the telcos seem to try to enforce there. Is apple repeating the same mistake they made with the original Mac (trying to control both the hardware and software) vs android (runs on multiple types of hardware)? Or will the telcos desire for control keep the software closed?

        In hindsight, aren't you glad you were modded as insightful? I know I'd be ecstatic having a child poster point out how off my insight has become.

    • by nvrrobx (71970) on Monday March 30, 2009 @02:23PM (#27391481) Homepage

      I don't know about the "any other wireless provider" thing.

      Look up UMA on T-Mobile. My BlackBerry Curve 8320 supports it, so I use my WiFi for voice calls when I'm at home.

      AT&T may not want you to do that, but T-Mobile seems to be okay with it.

      • Look up UMA on T-Mobile. My BlackBerry Curve 8320 supports it, so I use my WiFi for voice calls when I'm at home.

        I have t-mobile. Their wireless offerings have the suck at least in the Minneapolis/St.Paul market. the latencies make skype unusable; web pages take 10-30 seconds to display, etc. And t-mobile's phones are generally as locked down as any other vendor. See also: Ringtones.

    • You might be thinking a data-only plan with a Skype client would save you money, but you'd be wrong: Apple doesn't want you to do that. AT&T doesn't either.

      I'm not sure Apple has much reason to keep you from doing that except for maintaining their relationship with AT&T, but in general you're right. But besides them not wanting you to do it, it's not clear to me that any mobile carrier's network is good enough to support it even if they were willing to allow it. Even current 3G networks pretty well stink.

      • I'm not sure about the latest iPhones, but with the first revision Apple got a cut of the money AT&T collected from the contract, as well as the cost of the device. Anything that lets people spend less money with AT&T will harm their bottom line.

        Not really sure I understand the attraction of this though. Nokia phones have come with a SIP client for a while, which lets you make VoIP calls and use any of a wide range of POTS bridges, rather than being locked in to a single one (Skype).

        • I'm not sure about the latest iPhones, but with the first revision Apple got a cut of the money AT&T collected from the contract, as well as the cost of the device.

          I believe that changed when AT&T started subsidizing the cost of the iPhone.

          And ultimately I doubt Apple really wants to be a the mercy of a particular 3rd party vendor in order to provide service. They'd be much better off if there were ubiquitous high-speed wireless dumb pipes for which Apple could sell iPod Shuffles and forget about iPhones entirely. It's a better business for them to be in, and if they really wanted to lock you into a particular service, Apple could provide their own VoIP client

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        You might be thinking a data-only plan with a Skype client would save you money, but you'd be wrong: Apple doesn't want you to do that. AT&T doesn't either.

        I'm not sure Apple has much reason to keep you from doing that except for maintaining their relationship with AT&T, but in general you're right. But besides them not wanting you to do it, it's not clear to me that any mobile carrier's network is good enough to support it even if they were willing to allow it. Even current 3G networks pretty well

    • by darjen (879890)

      I have the $35/month data-only plan with AT&T and my nokia e71. Skype in and skype out works fine over 3g and fring's symbian app. Quality is not as good though, so I will probably switch to a SIP provider over Skype. Which is also more convenient since SIP stack is built right in to your contacts. All you have to do is configure your SIP gateway info, then select your contact and choose "internet call". Easy as pie.

    • If you want a phone with full VoIP support, get an unlocked Nokia E71 for about $350; it works on AT&T's network. It has built-in support for VoIP (including Gizmo), WiFi, GPS, 3G, a full WebKit browser, a 3Mpixel camera, video recording, and lots of other features. I have that and an unlimited data plan, and I still don't bother using the VoIP feature; it's easier just to use regular cellular calls and not significantly more expensive. So, the notion that AT&T is preventing you from using VoIP

    • Why would Apple care about Skype?

  • Since the iPhone does not allow for multiple programs running concurrently

    What's the point of including multitasking if you cannot make it pretty and shiny? I applaud Apple for continuing the fight to keep our lives pretty and shiny rather than attempting to make our lives more efficient and easier to manage. I mean, let's be serious, isn't shiny and pretty the real reason we carry personal digital devices.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by UnknowingFool (672806)

      What's the point of including multitasking if you cannot make it pretty and shiny? I applaud Apple for continuing the fight to keep our lives pretty and shiny rather than attempting to make our lives more efficient and easier to manage. I mean, let's be serious, isn't shiny and pretty the real reason we carry personal digital devices.

      It may be a limitation of the hardware or some other practical reason but the iPhone doesn't really multi-task. It only appears to do so using some hacks that Apple has done.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anita Coney (648748)

        In all seriousness , the reason the iPhone and the iPod Touch do not multitask is not related to hardware or software. The sole reason Apple enforces the no-multitask policy is to ensure that multiple running apps don't drag down the system. Apparently, WinCE has a tendency to be bogged down when running multiple apps and Apple wants to avoid that.

        http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/03/13/iphone-20-sdk-the-no-multitasking-myth/ [roughlydrafted.com]

  • by sohp (22984)

    Can someone explain to me why I'd want to make a phone call over a crappy VOIP system from a cell phone that I bought to be able to uh .. make phone calls?

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)
      Doesn't cost minutes, text messages, etc.
    • by orev (71566)

      Because:
      1) the quality of skype calls is far better than that of a phone call
      2) skype to skype calls are free, and skype to outside phones is really really cheap
      3) many people prefer to use skype because it is so much cheaper, and as a result do not have a regular phone or choose not to use it
      4) Calls using Skype don't use up your cell phone minutes ... I'm sure i could go on..

    • by vux984 (928602)

      Can someone explain to me why I'd want to make a phone call over a crappy VOIP system from a cell phone that I bought to be able to uh .. make phone calls?

      Because the cell phone provider charges you an arm and a leg for phone calls. And all you REALLY want from them is cellular data so you can use a crappy voip system.

      Cellular long distance rates are stupid high.

      Even prime time cellular minutes stupid expensive unless you fit neatly into some bizarre rate plan dart board where you only call 5 friends during

    • Re:whut? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rob1980 (941751) on Monday March 30, 2009 @02:39PM (#27391671)
      What if I'm abroad and have access to WiFi? No extortionate international charges through the provider, just power up Skype. This actually sounds like a good idea to me, since I'm studying abroad next year.
    • iPod Touch (Score:3, Insightful)

      by yabos (719499)
      You could make phone calls via the iPod Touch with an external microphone or on the new ones via the built in headphone microphone. Fring can do this already but when I tried it the call quality and lag was terrible(over wifi).
  • by AndrewNeo (979708) on Monday March 30, 2009 @02:38PM (#27391647) Homepage
    I'll just keep using Skype with my Windows Mobile phone, then, which, by the way, lets me use it on the data network. (I've never tried, because we only have EDGE in my area) I'm not bashing either Skype or Apple (I love my iPod Touch, though it's a 1st gen so Skype wouldn't work with it anyway) but I still have my PSP as another Skype-capable device, too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Alioth (221270)

      I'm not certain that Skype would work on a 3G network. It's not the bandwidth, but the latency. All mobile data networks I've used (GPRS, EDGE and 3G) have had *terrible* latency, and not only terrible latency but very unpredictable latency. If you use SSH over 3G, you'll find you type a bunch of stuff and perhaps 15 seconds later, what you typed will echo back. Other times, 3G latency is somewhat better, it only feels like doing ssh to a machine with a high load average on the other side of the planet. But

    • by NiteShaed (315799)

      I've tried it on my Motorola Q9h, using Sprint's EVDO network, and it was awful. The latency and sound quality made it a completely failed experiment. If I want to make an international call, I've been using "Skype-To-Go", which gives you a local number to dial into, which then moves the call to Skype for the next leg of the call. Still uses minutes, but far cheaper than calling France on my regular cell account.....

  • So (Score:5, Funny)

    by castorvx (1424163) on Monday March 30, 2009 @02:40PM (#27391689)
    If I use the Skype application to dial my AT&T cell phone number, does my iPhone detonate?
  • Only need Wifi (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Crispix (864691) on Monday March 30, 2009 @02:43PM (#27391727)
    The complaints about "shortcomings" are misguided.

    I only need Skype in wifi hot spots. Domestically, I use my cell phone minutes for phone calls. If I need to call internationally from my iPhone, I use Skype-To-Go, their relay service.

    I only need VOIP when I'm out of the country. I'm not going to use iPhone data roaming because it is too expensive. But there are plenty of free wifi spots around the globe.

    Fring has been so unreliable for me, an official Skype client has me very excited. When I'm in Cabo or Canada (or anywhere overseas) for a weekend, and I want to call home, this is where a Skype client is perfect! Find a wifi hot spot and dial away!
    • by EvilIdler (21087)

      Yeah, Fring is terrible. It has a serious delay whether I use it for Skype or VoIP. I'm wishing for a "phone API" on the iPhone and iPod touch, so you could make one program your replacement call system.

  • the news: seem to work over 3G and EDGE as well as Wifi. iPod Touch included. Chat included. Looks pretty decent to me. Some photos here: http://www.engadget.com/photos/skype-for-iphone-goes-live-in-japan/1460639/ [engadget.com]
    • ops, apparently access via 3G and EDGE is only for chat. Too good to be true...
    • Um, the wireless data infrastructure in Japan is FAR superior to what we have in the USA anyway, talk about an apples to oranges comparison.....
  • I see a time when phone companies accept that there is much value in the data as the phone service. Actually, I already see this happening with phone companies offering wi-fi hotspots. In the meantime phone companies are going to drag their feet to maximise revenue from the existing system.

    As bandwidth costs go down, it may work out to be cheaper in cities to install wi-fi locations, than installing cell phone towers, but until there are proper meshes we are unlikley to see this really work for moving pho

    • by sadler121 (735320)

      This will never happen as long as Phone companies have a monopoly on their networks (wired or wireless).

      They will fight to the bitter end to not end up as just a "Dumb Pipe".

    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      I see a time when phone companies accept that there is much value in the data as the phone service.

      They already know. Have you seen the SMS rates in the US?

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