Skype kept to its promise and released the long awaited official Skype application for the iPhone. One of the most popular IM clients is available for free from the App Store as of today. Having several iPhones at hand we were quite happy to give this newbie a spin and share with you our first impressions.
The most important thing to note seems to be that the Skype app is a no-go for jailbroken iPhones. When installed on one it constantly crashes, becoming virtually useless.
Update 01 April: Skype incompatibility with jailbroken iPhones with Cydia installed seems to have been fixed. Updating all your packages installed via Cydia fixes the instability issues of the Skype app.
Also calling through 3G is impossible at this stage (both SkypeOut to other phones and regular Skype to Skype calls). We read several reports suggesting that iPhones running on the OS 3.0 beta but than again the application is pretty unstable on this version too.
On the other hand using the application the way it is meant to be used (or rather the way Apple meant for it to be used) - over Wi-Fi on non-beta firmware - is a very positive experience indeed. It launches very fast and is generally really responsive with audio quality way better than what the third party apps for the iPhone can offer.
The Skype app itself consists of five tabs for contacts, chats, call, history and my info.
Contacts are sorted in alphabetic order with blocked ones sent to the end of the list. The search option is very effective, as it looks throughout the names much like on the desktop computer version of the app. In case you have too long a contact list you may also opt for seeing the online users only.
The chat section lists all chats chronologically with the newest on top of the list. When a single chat is selected a profile image appears next to each message which helps a lot for the visual perception but takes more space on the screen with less room for text. The date and time of sending of each message also appear here. Unlike the desktop version however older chats cannot be deleted from the chat list.
The call tab needs no further explanation as it is quite simple - access to the contacts, green/red call key and the correction key.
The history tab reveals the call history with dialed, missed and received calls. Again calls are listed chronologically with the newest on top. Pressing a name from the log gives direct access to the caller profile with call and chat shortcuts. You can easily clear the entire call history should you find the need to do so.
My info tab allows the user to edit their entire profile, change their status, buy Skype credit, online number or voice mail. Changing a picture of your profile is as easy as it gets - make a new one with the camera or choose existing photo from the ones available in the photo albums.
Some nice touches to the application allow the user to use the loudspeaker or the headphones for making a Skype call.
While we certainly find the official Skype application quite nice we simply cannot let trough its drawbacks. First of all, it somehow manages to drain the battery even faster than using the GPS. About two hours of keeping Skype online with the display switched off for the most part, except for two short voice calls via Wi-Fi network used almost half the battery.
Another great disadvantage is the lack of a landscape keyboard. You shouldn't also look for smilies - there isn't any. There is no incoming message alert too so if the display is switched off, you will be only be signaled of incoming calls. Quite strangely incoming calls are not signaled when you are using Skype through 3G no matter if the display is on or off.
The final shortcoming of the Skype app we noticed is that an incoming SMS message or call (regular network one that is) turns off the Skype. At least after a call the app logs back in automatically.
The settings menu is quite bare with the only configurable option being whether you want or not Skype to log in automatically once started.
So that's about as much as we can tell you at this stage. The rest is left for you to find out by downloading the app from the App store - it's not like it's going to cost you anything after all.
It will sell in billions! I tell you. It will happen. Soon!
Just create an itunes account with us mailing address. you could use some fake us address and create one account. You dont even need credit card anymore. Also, you could use your both canadian and US account on the same phone