Skype for iPhone review

The last time Macworld looked at Skype, the free version left a lot to be desired: it was limited only to the iPhone and iPod touch, would work only over WiFi, and wouldn’t run in the background. My, how things have changed.

The new version works with all the latest iOS devices – although it’s not optimised for the iPad’s larger screen – and lets you make 3G voice calls, provided your network’s data plan can hack it. It now also runs in the background, so you’ll always know when someone’s calling you, even if you don’t have the app open. This also means you can leave the app to check an email, for example, without disconnecting a call.

Making a call couldn’t be easier. If your friends and family are already on Skype, simply type their name in the Skype address book and the app places the call almost immediately. Call quality is good, with CD-quality audio putting most regular mobile calls to shame. You can catch up with Skype friends using the built-in instant messaging screen, with an attractive, familiar interface for text-based chats.

OUR VERDICT

Now that the iPhone 4 and the latest iPod touch support FaceTime over WiFi, it’s disappointing that Skype – which is renowned for video chat on the desktop – still lacks video calling on the iPhone. Despite this missing killer feature, Skype is ageing well. Under iOS 4, the app can genuinely help heavy talkers place very cheap calls via the internet.

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