Skype adds video calling for iOS devices

In a move that will surprise very few people, Skype has updated its iOS app to support mobile video calling.

Today's announcement, accompanied by an app version bump to 3.0, was widely expected to be made next week at CES, but it appears the Luxembourg-based company simply couldn't wait that long, or was perhaps keen for some good PR following last week's global outage. While mobile video calling seemed a natural progression for Skype's iOS client following the release of the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, the first sign that such functionality was on the way appeared last week in a support document on the company's website, followed by a series of teaser videos and tweets.

In terms of features, the updated iOS client packs no surprises, allowing iPhone 3GS and 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch users to make and recieve video calls among each other and with Skype users on PC, Mac and Linux. iPhone 3GS owners are able to use the phone's rear camera for video calling, while iPad and third-generation iPod touch users can receive video only.

Video calling is, as with the desktop service, free and works over 3G and WiFi, though early testing by Engadget suggests the 3G video calling experience is far from ideal. The site also noted that video calling will take a heavy toll on an iOS device's battery, with levels dropping around five per cent after just 10 minutes of use. Video quality over WiFi appears on par with that provided by Apple's built-in FaceTime functionality, though the ability to video call over 3G will obviously give the Skype app at least a slight edge.

The Skype 3.0 app is now live on the App Store and the company has released a promo video to show off its video calling functionality. A quick word of warning - don't hit play if you're offended by bad dancing.

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28 Comments

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3G calling works really well with good video and audio quality (at least in Vancouver on Telus). I have to say that I'm impressed with it. Can't imagine it would work very well in the States on AT&T however... The wifi quality is about on par with FaceTime, with a slight edge for Facetime, but being able to chat with anyone on pretty much any mac, pc, or ios device makes this the winner in my book.

It is good but you need to have skype running to get the call, that's a bit annoying and I know it is how Skype works but it would be good if something could run in the background always waiting for a call, a bit like FaceTime works I suppose.

The quality is crap compared to Facetime, but I guess I can't facetime with 3GS and earlier devices or other OS devices ... so in many respects this is cool (and it's 3G as well as WiFi whereas Facetime is just WiFi).

But yeah ... I'll stick to Facetime for most of my video calling since most people I know now are getting iPhone4's

I wonder how long the battery would last with this on for more than 30 min. The previous version before the recent update used to take up ~70% of the CPU power on my Macbook. The update was nice and it took a lot less and I was impressed. Any comment on the usage of this app on the iPhone?

careless_monkey said,
I wonder how long the battery would last with this on for more than 30 min. The previous version before the recent update used to take up ~70% of the CPU power on my Macbook. The update was nice and it took a lot less and I was impressed. Any comment on the usage of this app on the iPhone?

As mentioned in the article, Engadget found the app drained an iPhone's battery by about 5 per cent after 10 minutes of use. In my own limited testing on an iPhone 4, I've found those figures to be about right.

SteelToast said,
surprised apple did not ban video calling on 4th gen Ipod touch and iPhone apart from their facetime

Being Apple and all, even I dont think they would be that stupid

Once again a company doing video calling properly, like Yahoo Messenger for iOS I can use my 3GSs rear camera to show somebody something or show them where am I, Apple really needs to get its act together and bring FaceTime to the 3GS.

thealexweb said,
Once again a company doing video calling properly, like Yahoo Messenger for iOS I can use my 3GSs rear camera to show somebody something or show them where am I, Apple really needs to get its act together and bring FaceTime to the 3GS.

Apple is using Facetime as one of the many features to try and convince iPhone users to upgrade. They'll not waste their time on making it work with 3GS when the REAL reason for using Facetime is face to face calls ... not to show people stuff.

Spirit Dave said,

Apple is using Facetime as one of the many features to try and convince iPhone users to upgrade. They'll not waste their time on making it work with 3GS when the REAL reason for using Facetime is face to face calls ... not to show people stuff.

Well I for one shall not being upgrading, when you pay a premium as big as you do for Apple hardware you expect a decent level of support for the next few years, you don't expect Apple to just pick and choice what features older models get, Skype lets models that don't even have a camera see video streams, all in all Apples just not trying.

Mephistopheles said,
'This video contains content from UMG. It is not available in your country.'

Gah.

What is your place of residence? I'm surprised that the video is not blocked in Greece due to copyright material, as always..

efthlouk said,

What is your place of residence? I'm surprised that the video is not blocked in Greece due to copyright material, as always..

Yeah, i think that Sony has excluded Greece for copyright material where even Sony Greece material can not be viewed in...Greece! UMG might not have applied same restrictions here but correct copyright identification is still a nightmare.

I already said that in the post in the iOS-Devices-Forum... I want to see that ad but effin geoblocking doesn't let me! I hate that.

But yeah, nice update. Didn't have the chance to test it yet, though. :-)

instant.human said,
I already said that in the post in the iOS-Devices-Forum... I want to see that ad but effin geoblocking doesn't let me! I hate that.

But yeah, nice update. Didn't have the chance to test it yet, though. :-)

They geoblock ads now? Damn, they have no limits.

Julius Caro said,

They geoblock ads now? Damn, they have no limits.

No limits would be great! But yeah, it's an AD goddamnit... it's for your own good that I see it because you want to sell me something now GTFO and make it available!