As I covered yesterday, the native Skype client for the iPhone was released today.
Being both a Skype and iPhone user I grab the new Skype client this morning. Before making any test calls or messages, I decided to give the Skype client a quick “feature spin.”
Skype for iPhone feature overview
After a quick download from the app store I found that the Skype for iPhone client allows Skype users to:
- Call other Skype users
- Call out via SkypeOut
- Manage your contacts
- View chats and calling history
- View and edit your account information
Missing from Skype’s native desktop functionality is:
- Ability to purchase SkypeOut credit directly
- SMS messaging
- Conference calling
- Voicemail retrieval
- File transfers
There are likely a few others, but those were the major missing features. Once I had an opportunity to familiarize myself with the Skype for iPhone client, I spent some time putting the client through it’s paces.
Skype for iPhone review
For the purposes of this review I:
- Made a few calls to other Skype users.
- Placed a few 5 – 10 minute calls to landlines and mobiles.
- Engaged in a few messages with friends.
Now I’ve only been using the Skype for iPhone client for all of two and a half hours, but there isn’t much to it. Based off my experience with Skype for iPhone, here are some thoughts:
- Fast download, easy install. No problems.
- Skype nailed the user experience. Simple and easy.
- Best user experience of any mobile VoIP client for Skype.
- Call quality was excellent in each of my calls (I used two different WiFi networks).
In addition to these pros, it should be noted that Skype can drastically reduce calling costs (if you’re not currently a Skype user).
- Client must be “on” to get incoming calls.
- No SMS capabilities.
- Purchasing SkypeOut cannot be done directly.
- WiFi only. This, of course, is an Apple/wireless carrier thing. But it still sucks.
Of the cons listed all of them seem to be due to the limitations Apple and wireless carriers place on iPhone application developers.
I’m sure that Skype would love for users to have the ability to place calls over 3G and send and recieve text messages. Unfortunately that would come at the expense of the wireless carriers existing revenues.
Having worked at two of the largest I don’t see them letting that happen unless it’s profitable for them.
For all the wait time one might have expect something from Skype that brought a little more “wow.”
While the Skype for iPhone client didn’t “wow” me, Skype did impress me with their execution. Skype for iPhone is simple and easy to use. As I stated above, the user experience is great.
It also stacks up well to competing mobile VoIP applications from Truphone, fring and Nimbuzz. These applications might allow one to do more today, but in my opinion they’re not as user friendly.
So overall the Skype for iPhone application is a good first release for Skype. If you’re a Skype user you should be pleased with what they’ve produced – just don’t expect the world.