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Skype (sort of) available for non-Verizon Android phones

The headline on Skype's blog post today reads "Skype now available for Android phones."

skype_logo.jpg

But if you use an Android device in the United States, that sentence may only confuse you.

First, Skype arrived on Verizon Wireless Android phones back in February, as part of an exclusive deal the Luxembourg-based Internet-calling service signed with that carrier.

Second, the seventh of eight lines of small type at the end of the post makes it clear that this new version of Skype remains subject to whatever bargain its developers struck with Verizon:

In the US, you can make calls only over WiFi.

If you want to call a pal overseas via Skype outside of WiFi range on an Android device, you'll need to use Verizon. Then again, the Verizon flavor of Skype doesn't work over WiFi; it's 3G only.

Perhaps at some point, Skype will figure out how to ship an Internet-calling app in the U.S. that's not so picky about data connections. One tip: Its Android developers could check in with its iPhone developers, whose app works over both 3G and WiFi.

Android Police's first-look review warns that the Skype app eats processor cycles during calls and needs 14 megabytes of internal storage. That last limitation may complicate installing it on phones that arrived already crammed with useless carrier-installed apps.

Meanwhile, you have other options. TechCrunch's post notes that the free Fring app can make Skype calls over both 3G and WiFi. If you can do without WiFi-only calling and have voice minutes to spare, another option comes from Google itself--its free Google Voice app.

What's your usual solution for free or cheap long-distance and international calls in Android? What would your ideal solution look like?

By Rob Pegoraro  | October 5, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Mobile, Telecom  
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Comments

"the Skype app eats processor cycles"
I believe it, since it has to encrypt the audio in real time. When I first looked at it, back in 2005, it would bog down an average PC.

Posted by: wiredog | October 5, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

how come i can make calls with skype from my iPhone, without being of Wi-Fi??

Posted by: tucutucu | October 5, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Why is it everyone assumes Skype has a choice in what type of network it'll work on?

Posted by: rpass | October 5, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Its not at all Skype's Android developers fault. The actual app itself works perfectly fine making calls on GPRS, EDGE, or 3G networks (I am in Indonesia where the telecoms are far less dictatorial over their services). Just 4 minutes ago I made a perfectly clear call over 3G with my Nexus One and 20 minutes before that used a Wi-Fi network to do the same. The app works just fine (at least in this aspect, I make no comments on the the processor cycle issue). It is entirely the carrier's fault here.

Posted by: OutlawBlue9 | October 6, 2010 5:13 AM | Report abuse

Its not at all Skype's Android developers fault. The actual app itself works perfectly fine making calls on GPRS, EDGE, or 3G networks (I am in Indonesia where the telecoms are far less dictatorial over their services). Just 4 minutes ago I made a perfectly clear call over 3G with my Nexus One and 20 minutes before that used a Wi-Fi network to do the same. The app works just fine (at least in this aspect, I make no comments on the the processor cycle issue). It is entirely the carrier's fault here.

Posted by: OutlawBlue9 | October 6, 2010 5:16 AM | Report abuse

OutlawBlue9 makes a good point here.
There is NO technical issue with Skype on whatever connections on Android. It's just US carriers. You'll probably find that this is because of the deal they signed with Verizon and nothing else, since outside of the US there is no issue, this is pretty obvious and yet it's implied that the programmers have some trouble programming this feature because of Android.

All in all the tone of this article just seems a bit snippy and anti-android, rubbish like "installing it on phones that arrived already crammed with useless carrier-installed apps" is a case in point. Think before you write: those useless carrier apps do not go anywhere near to cramming out all the space required to install something like Skype, how much memory do you think these phones have?

Posted by: ozoneocean | October 6, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the comments...

@rpass: It should be Skype's choice, unless you think carriers can ban certain apps whenever they feel like it. (Please see my recent writings on network neutrality for my thoughts on that.)

@OutlawBlue9: It may be a carrier issue explaining why Skype for non-VzW Android phones in the U.S. doesn't work over WiFi--but what about the Verizon version? Why would VzW want to require Skype users to employ its own network and not offload their use to WiFi?

@ozoneocean: You do realize that I paid for an Android phone myself, right? That phone now bugs me that its storage space is getting low--and I haven't even had it for a year. I rooted it precisely because dumping carrier apps was an easy way to solve that space problem. (But I'm still stuck nuking the useless Sprint Football Live app... Titanium says it can't find its .apk file, although it does list the app. Any ideas?)

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | October 6, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

My Solution: Kineto's "Smart Wi-Fi" of course, since you keep your mobile # and use your plan's domestic minutes when calling abroad over Wi-Fi...

Posted by: stro | October 7, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse

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