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Skype for Android
Before reviewing the application I would like to touch upon several points. First of all, why this article was published here instead of mobile-review.com. Secondly, why new Skype for Android is actually new and received the index 1. How it differs from Skype Lite on Android and carrier specific models, for example, the one offered by Verizon.
The release of Skype for any platform is an event itself. We can argue about its pros and contras but during the last 5 years no serious competitor emerged. Another good example is the absence of Skype analogues on Android. VoIP applications are abundant, but they cannot match Skype in simple and understandable use.
A year ago (correct me if it is not true) the company released its simplified app for Android, but Skype Lite was available for several months and then its java-version was removed from the Market. It was too weak for Android.
At the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Skype announced its cooperation with Verizon and a customized version of carriers’ smartphones.
This was another era for Skype on Android. New work conditions, voice communication over 3G and the impossibility to use the software unless you own any Android smartphone from Verizon. Later on users could even download an .apk file with the app to install on any smartphone. The application still easily determined whether you were on Verizon or not and it was not possible to work with.
The release of new Skype for Android on October 5 is an important event. This is effectively the first version for Android. If you also belong to the group of people who use Skype more often than ICQ and like to make calls this way be ready to learn about new features in Skype for Android.
After the launch you see startup screens highlighting main features of the app. Everything is simple and easy to use here.
The app is divided into four blocks. Tabs are at the top, while the center is dedicated to the screen with info from one of the tabs. From left to right we have: Contacts, Call, Profile and Events. The entire interface can be analyzed on the example of several tabs.
In contacts you see all your Skype connections and can easily add a new one, make the app search for Skype logins in the Phonebook or enter new data manually. Contacts are displayed as one list. On the left you have a little picture followed by a status icon, signature and contact name. Regarding names they are fully compatible with the contacts base on your desktop Skype. If you store contacts without changing names they will be represented here this way too. If you independently assign names to added contacts (not everybody remembers nicknames of friends used for Skype identification) in the mobile version of Skype you will see the results of your names creation.
Press and hold the contact name to open the shortcut menu. You can make a Skype or mobile phone call (if the number is entered), send a chat message, view personal information, delete or block the contact.
While viewing the contact profile you see all related data in several tabs.
Contacts from the list can be filtered. In the current version you have Groups, which once pressed shows you only Contacts Currently Online or Favorites.
There is no search option in contacts, which is a disadvantage of the first version. They can only be scrolled.
In the Profile you see the info for your account. In the same location you can access your current Skype account and add new services. Besides, this page allows changing your signature, picture and status.
In Events you have all events, conversations and chats filtered by the date of your last address (individual and group chats can be returned to).
Call Landline and Mobile Numbers
This feature is available from the Call. The dialer allows calling landline and mobile phones. The number is entered manually or can be chosen in the Phonebook represented by the list, which refreshes at every call (another drawback). If I have 300 contacts every time I chose one from the Phonebook it is necessary to wait for 300 to be formed into a refreshed list. Then appears the field for contacts search.
If you store several numbers you will see a window to choose the right one. When the call starts you see a key to end it, microphone shutdown buttons and its cost in progress. After the call you get the information on its total price.
It is an open secret that Skype allows group sessions for 3, 4 or 5 persons. In Skype for Android users cannot initiate such conversations. If your friend starts this talk on PC based Skype, s/he can invite you to join and you will be an equal participant of the discussion (if the network quality is enough).
Here I have to mention one issue. At least I encountered it on my HTC Desire. Trying to start a group talk I added another person and then myself, but never received a call on my smartphone. Everything worked fine when the group talk was initiated by a call to me with the subsequent addition of other participants.
Speech Communication Quality and Connection Options
If 2G/3G and Wi-Fi are available the app independently selects the faster option, but Skype can operate via Wi-Fi, 3G or even 2G.
To my mind the speech communication quality is decent when Wi-Fi is used. I cannot say that Skype offers crystal clear sound, but I did not hear any alien noises and you can easily talk for hours (it is really true that many conversations between Skype users are free and continue during one hour and more).
In the US, thanks to Verizon, only calls via Wi-Fi are allowed.
When you connect through 2G the sound is expectedly worse. The connection features delays and communication becomes less than convenient (your partner hears your utterances 2-5 seconds afterwards). 3G offers a better quality. If in a café you can benefit from 3G connection the sound will be more acceptable.
Chat and Group Chat
Similarly to the desktop version of Skype the mobile version enables chats with one or more interlocutors. The chat has an easy to use format with messages on the left and right depending on the sender.
In group chats you change the topic, which is also a welcome addition from the desktop “brother”.
In the application you can customize alerts, activate redirection, chose a ringtone from the standard set or use any file of your choice.
If during all these years you painstakingly tried to migrate from ICQ and similar apps to Skype I can only advise to install Skype on your Android and enjoy it. My first impressions are favorable and this software meets all expectations. As a seasoned Skype user since its inception I am satisfied.
The first version has its drawbacks as it requires Android 2.1 or higher and apparently there is no version for smartphones with lower resolution screens (so owners of HTC Wildfire cannot see it in the Market). On selected models Skype simply crashes when you access any screen of this app. There are some issues, but it is essential that developers managed to complete a relatively stable version of Skype for Android (on HTC Desire this application works just fine), which shares main features with desktop variant of Skype.
Skype 126.96.36.1998 was tested on HTC Desire (software version 1.21.405.2)
Published - 06 October 2010
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