Skype App Updated To Allow Calls Over 3G
Skype has just announced that an updated version of its iPhone app has been released to the app store and now allows calling over 3G.
While this functionality has been available on the iPhone since a January update to the SDK, and while other apps such as Fring have enabled 3G VOIP calling through their apps, Skype has been noticeably absent from the VOIP over 3G landscape. Until today.
One of the reasons may be that VOIP over 3G isn’t 100% perfect yet. The 3G data network isn’t always reliably fast enough to ensure a level of call quality on par with that of standard voice phone calls or VOIP over wifi. Skype wants to ensure that their users enjoy a positive experience every time they use their product, so limiting 3G calls until the technology improved was in line with this strategy.
Why they are allowing 3G calls now seems to be answered in the press release: “The new version features an enhanced call quality indicator, which will help you choose the best moment to call.” Sounds like a 3G signal strength meter to me. Still, it’s nice to have some estimate of how good your call will sound before you make it.
In addition, there are some tweaks to the app. A faster start up time and some UI changes to allow quick access to the dial pad from the home screen will improve usability.
One interesting thing to note is that while Skype-to-Skype calls over wifi are always free, Skype-to-Skype calls over 3G are free for now. Skype-to-Skype over 3G will be free until the end of 2010, and after that, well, pricing options are being considered. It probably won’t be much though, considering how low Skype’s rates are now.
Maybe we will begin to see 3G (or 4G?) data + skype plans coming out with smartphones in 2011 without a standard voice plan.