Skype launches video calling app for iOS

Faith Merino · December 30, 2010 · Short URL:

The app allows users to make free mobile video calls to other mobile devices or desktops

So it looks like FaceTime for iPhone 4 has been rendered completely obsolete.  Skype announced Thursday morning the launch of its new video calling app for the iPhone, which will allow anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to send or receive free Skype video calls.

Some 95 billion minutes of voice and video calls were made in the first half of 2010, and video calling accounted for some 40% of all Skype-to-Skype, so the new app is bound to be a big hit, as it not only allows for mobile-to-mobile video chatting, but also supports video calls between mobile iOS devices and desktops on Skype’s Windows, Mac, and Linux software.  Additionally, calls can be made over Wi-Fi or 3G.

While the app is the first for Skype on iOS, this is not Skype’s first foray into the mobile video calling space.  Earlier this year, Skype released a video chat app for the Nokia N900. 

The service has 124 million active users, and while Skype-to-Skype calls are free, calls to landlines or mobile phones that do not have Skype will be charged (the service has pretty impressive international calling rates).

But Skype’s entrance into the mobile video calling space is curiously late, as it’s coming in behind Apple, Tango, Fring, and even Yahoo Instant Messenger.  Tango has taken the mobile video chat platform by storm, offering a cross-platform service that supports video chats between different operating systems and devices, which means an iPhone 4 user can call an iPhone 3GS user, or an Android user, and so on, while FaceTime is restricted to iPhone 4 users only.  Additionally, video calls made through FaceTime can only be made via a Wi-Fi connection, so Skype and Tango both have a leg-up on FaceTime in that respect.

“By bringing video to mainstream users at their home or work via their desktops, on the go with their mobiles, or into their living room via their TV, Skype has made it possible for millions of people to share video moments wherever they are,” said Neil Stevens, Skype’s GM of consumer business, in a prepared statement.

Skype’s iPhone app, which was launched in April 2009, is among the top five free apps in the App Store, and Skype is downloaded on one in four new iPhone activations each day.

But what if the network is too weak to support a video call?  The app will gauge the network speed to determine whether a video or voice call is recommended, saving users the frustration of trying to hold a video call on a bad connection. 

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