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Skype App Updated, Allows 3G Calling On the iPhone 109

Posted by kdawson
from the free-for-now dept.
silverpig sends this excerpt from the Wifitalk.ca blog: "Skype has just announced that an updated version of its iPhone app has been released to the App Store and now allows calling over 3G. While this functionality has been available on the iPhone since a January update to the SDK, and while other apps such as Fring have enabled 3G VOIP calling through their apps, Skype has been noticeably absent from the VOIP-over-3G landscape. Until today." A reader adds: "Included in the app update are some UI tweaks and a call quality indicator to help you predict what your VOIP-over-3G call quality will be like. Most interesting in the announcement is the suggestion that while Skype-to-Skype over 3G will be free for 2010, Skype is investigating pricing options and may charge for it in 2011. This could lead to smartphones being sold with data only + Skype plans."
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Skype App Updated, Allows 3G Calling On the iPhone

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  • I don't get it.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TyFoN (12980)

    Why would skype over 3g be different than skype over wifi? They are both tcp/ip connections right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bcmm (768152)
      Because they can, and because iPhone users (and to some extent all smartphone users) are accustomed to paying extra for random things.

      On a semi-OT note, this sort of thing happening with "normal" internet connections (like the one your house has) is one of the things net-neutrality campaigners are worried about.
      • by TyFoN (12980)

        Well I don't even think fring on my android phone even knows what type of connection it uses. It doesn't let me know at least :)
        As for my regular internet getting this treatment, I'd switch to one of the 10-20 others delivering to my address in a heartbeat!

        • by bcmm (768152)

          I'd switch to one of the 10-20 others delivering to my address in a heartbeat!

          Lucky you. A lot of people live in areas with ISP monopolies.

        • by Threni (635302)

          > Well I don't even think fring on my android phone even knows what type of connection it uses. It doesn't let me know at least :)

          Skype for Android has been confirmed as coming out soon (later this year) with video calling. We just need a few more front camera Android phones - or a mirror!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Spy Hunter (317220)

        Net neutrality campaigners aren't just worried about "normal" internet connections, whatever that means. Net neutrality principles apply to *all* internet connections.

        This situation is the reverse of the normal network neutrality problem. Normally you would expect AT&T to charge extra for the use of Skype, and that would be a clear net neutrality violation. Having Skype charge extra for using AT&T's network is less bad; Skype is not an ISP and there are many competing VoIP alternatives which do n

    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:35PM (#32399430)

      Right, in the sane world there would be no difference. I was doing Skype over 3G EVDO like 3 or 4 years ago, but then again my Treo wasn't controlled by Apple and the network it ran over was Sprint.

      In the AT&T/Apple world, you the consumer don't make choices. You don't run software willy-nilly. They allow you to run software, and if that software is seen as taking away profits from either entity then it won't get approved. Or in this case gets approved after 2 years of complaints, threatened lawsuits, and the FTC breathing down AT&Ts neck.

      • by Wrexs0ul (515885) <(mmeier) (at) (racknine.com)> on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:47PM (#32399534) Homepage

        ...but there's a half-dozen carrier-neutral SIP/IAX2 apps on iTunes, and even more free apps purpose-built by companies offering VoIP over wifi/3G. I use one to connect to an Asterisk server and get great integration with my office PBX that is effectively a high-quality wifi phone.

        The announcement here was that Skype feels it solved problems inherent with changing latency of 3G to the point you can walk around and have a decent phone call. That's huge if it works because service quality where I am can change block-by-block. I'm sure they'll have an Android version of this too in no-time if that's the case.

        Apple is "Evil to the core(tm)". By choosing their products and harsh requirements for software reliability I'm forcing vendors to jump through hoops to sell me something. Maybe that's the trade-off for a device that just works.

        -Matt

        • by Weezul (52464) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:05PM (#32399660)

          All that shit "just works" on my N900, including Skype. Imho, the only mobile platform that doesn't "just work" is Window Mobile.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Luckyo (1726890)

            Skype has been working over any data connection on nokia phones for years, both via 3rd party applications as well as native one.

            Heck, the main complaint is that native skype app on nokia won't give you video calling at the moment, unlike the 3rd party apps that do.

            • PR1.2 (Score:3, Informative)

              by Weezul (52464)

              Nokia only just added video calling for Skype on the N900 last week in PR1.2, but that delay seems like just Nokia's Symbian heads acting like douche bags with respect to the Maemo/MeeGo platform designed to help them hold the high end phone market.

              • by tincho_uy (566438)
                Skype calls and IM worked out of the box on the N900 since day one. What are you talking about? The video calls are new. I've just tested them and they work with skype and gmail with no issues. I haven't tried SIP video yet, though.
                • by Weezul (52464)

                  Video didn't work until last week after PR1.2. SIP video kinda worked if the other party initialized, but you couldn't initialize, and skype had no video.

          • the only mobile platform that doesn't "just work" is Window Mobile.

            Skype Mobile on WM has done 3G VOIP since 2007 on my Sprint network. It pretty much Just Worked. Bonus: have been enjoying occasional Video VOIP calls since then with Microsoft Portrait. That Just Works as well.

          • Heretic!
        • by nurb432 (527695)

          Apple is "Evil to the core(tm)". By choosing their products and harsh requirements for software reliability I'm forcing vendors to jump through hoops to sell me something. Maybe that's the trade-off for a device that just works.

          -Matt

          Shhhhh stop making sense, people might hear you.

        • by tknd (979052)

          By choosing their products and harsh requirements for software reliability I'm forcing vendors to jump through hoops to sell me something. Maybe that's the trade-off for a device that just works.

          Then why can't Google have Google Voice or Adobe have Flash on an iphone? Oh, I know why, only apps Apple thinks are "ok" are allowed. This isn't just a quality issue. This is a control issue where control refers to what Apple wants to control. And before you get back to the "but something like Flash isn't good quality for the user" we aren't just talking about users here. We are also talking about developers. The Apple deal for developers has always been the short end of the stick. They can pretty much tel

          • by DJRumpy (1345787)

            You do realize that is IS Apple's business? They gave away too much control in the 90's and were nearly buried because of it. Now they've gone to the other extreme and found it works very well for 'joe user' who doesn't care about Skype. Hell, he or she would probably just look at you wondering what the hell Skype is.

            The sooner the geek crowd comes to terms with the fact that although Apple is a tech gadget company, and that they are also a PC company, they don't care about the 'geek' vote and they are perf

      • I've been using Fring to make Skype calls over 3G on iPhone since January. It even works with SkypeOut. It's just a matter of logging in to your Skype account from Fring's client.

        The main difference here is that the official client gets the 3G support. The SDK terms were changed in January to allow 3G, so basically Skype have been slow / bound by contracts (they've claimed the latter).

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Absolutely, but you're wrong to blame it on AT&T and Apple. ALL cell phone companies are greedy and have gotten away with too much. If your Treo was as common as iPhones are and the 3G VOIP app was as easy to get and use, you can bet Sprint would have acted to protect their lucrative voice calling service.

        • by gad_zuki! (70830)

          What? The Treo at that time was the most popular smartphone. Not all cell phone companies are alike. AT&T and Apple are just one of the biggest anti-consumer companies in the world.

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            When the Treo was out smartphones were a microscopic fraction of the mobile phone market. It's still not very big (10-15% I think), but it's enough that the carriers are worried about the bigger players threatening their business model. More importantly, smartphones are within reach of most of their customers (obsolete iPhones are the free-with-the-contract phone in many places) and the cell companies would really like everyone to get one so they can charge for both voice and data service. They're not g

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Competes with the phone company selling minutes. I have a skype in number and the last two weeks I've been directing conference calls to my skype account. I still use Skype on my iPhone for talking, just connected to my WiFi router at home. If I had taken those calls directly to my cell, I would have been way over on my minutes this month.

      I'm sure the cell phone company would much rather bill me for the over use of minutes. (although I do have like 2800 roll over minutes)

    • Why would skype over 3g be different than skype over wifi? They are both tcp/ip connections right?

      Right. They're not different on my Nokia N900. Are they different on Android? Are they different on European iPhones (since they don't go via AT&T)? Is that different on other phones on AT&T's network?

      • by node 3 (115640)

        Why would skype over 3g be different than skype over wifi? They are both tcp/ip connections right?

        Right. They're not different on my Nokia N900. Are they different on Android? Are they different on European iPhones (since they don't go via AT&T)? Is that different on other phones on AT&T's network?

        They're just as different on the iPhone as they are on any other sufficiently advanced phone. They are just different network adaptors, something like eth0 and eth1. I know the iPhone makes the difference clear to developers, so that they can account for differences in latency, bandwidth, and reliability, of 3G vs WiFi. I would assume Android, and other phones that are sufficiently advanced for the difference to make a difference (i.e., an email and WAP only phone, the differences probably doesn't matter),

        • On the n900, the devices are called wlan0 and gprs0. IMHO, it's a way better naming than ethX, but at the end, who cares, as long as you can identify who's in use? Now, about the revenue of the app store, how can you tell? I'm sure you are just making a wild guess here, and mine is that you are totally wrong. Let's say every iPhone user is buying 10 USD worth of apps, that is already reaching a quarter of a billion. Are you saying that this is insignificant? I don't think so.
          • by node 3 (115640)

            On the n900, the devices are called wlan0 and gprs0. IMHO, it's a way better naming than ethX, but at the end, who cares, as long as you can identify who's in use?

            I never said what they are called, just that they have labels like those, using examples most familiar to people here for a point of reference, but I assume the developer never deals with that directly, and just uses APIs that say "this is only for WiFi" or "if we're on 3G, let me know so I can do things differently", etc.

            Now, about the revenue of the app store, how can you tell? I'm sure you are just making a wild guess here, and mine is that you are totally wrong. Let's say every iPhone user is buying 10 USD worth of apps, that is already reaching a quarter of a billion. Are you saying that this is insignificant? I don't think so.

            Apple has maintained for years now that the iTunes stores are run at close to break-even. You're most likely correct that the iTunes stores generate a lot of revenue, but I never said they

  • I rarely miss multitasking on my iPhone, but Skype is the app that really reminds me how important it would be.
  • I've been playing around with VoIP on 3G using the SIP client from Acrobits and it's fairly reliable on low-bandwidth codecs in most areas around here. Bad reception does affect VoIP calls more than cell calls, but overall this covers about 90% of places where I talk outside of the car.

    Then again, if there was better prices on airtime maybe I'd be less inclined to go 100% VoIP. Canadian carriers offer unlimited incoming minutes for $15/mo, but after the upper cap on packages they can't do better than 3 cents/minute for outbound? So long as pricing is designed to deter cell phone use I'm going to continue migrating away as fast as possible.

    I am very curious about the technical details of Skype's service. What Codec are they using for their VoIP traffic? Is it GSM/g.729 for the low-bandwidth, or something proprietary they cooked-up? I'd love to see what they considered a reasonable call quality trade-off for 3G service limitiations.

    -Matt

  • I predict... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2NO@SPAMgdargaud.net> on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:39PM (#32399468) Homepage
    I predict that in the near future all 3G subscriptions will be data only, paying by Gb. Voice will be data like any other. As soon as one provider starts pricing like this, all the others will be forced to follow suite.
    • by DeadboltX (751907)
      People will go where the perceived value is, so unless one company somehow makes it look like you're saving money by being charged at a metered rate then all companies would have to do this simultaneously or it would be suicide for the first company to do this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bcmm (768152)
      Doesn't seem likely with 3G, but 4G is expected to be IP-only, which would really make that look like the only sensible model.
    • this will limit the bandwidth-use of the chattier people I know... :)

      -Matt

    • Re:I predict... (Score:5, Informative)

      by sssssss27 (1117705) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:52PM (#32399600)
      That's actually one of the requirements for 4G, "An all IP, packet switched network." Wikipedia has a pretty good entry on it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:I predict... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NevDull (170554) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:54PM (#32399614) Homepage Journal

      Personally, I think Google is waiting for Skype to fight the data vs. telephone case and then follow the "open" path Skype has created to swoop in with Google Voice end-to-end VoIP apps and scale out like sand in a sandstorm.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Personally, I think Google is waiting for Skype to fight the data vs. telephone case and then follow the "open" path Skype has created to swoop in with Google Voice end-to-end VoIP apps and scale out like sand in a sandstorm.

        Carriers can make sure that VoIP is unusable without doing anything special. VoIP has a very nasty requirement that no other usage has - it is very time sensitive. Latency can turn a great VoIP connection into garbage. HTTP and other traffic wouldn't notice it. And not just any latency,

    • by yabos (719499)
      I don't think that will happen any time soon. Carriers love charging you money and having you not actually use the service. They charge you $xx/month for xx minutes per month no matter if you use these minutes or not. Same with the data packages. If they billed by the GB then their revenue goes down drastically since most people don't come close to using everything they're paying for.
    • it's more likely that it'll be they just decide to give everybody unlimited minutes for a flat rate, and sell you the data connection. as like $1/GB/month

  • Emergencies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LBArrettAnderson (655246) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:02PM (#32399636)

    Are they finally going to allow emergency calling (and locating) for skype?

    • The phone can already make emergency calls, so that seems like a non-issue...

      • Yes, but you'll be used to using the skype interface to make calls. Once everything is set up properly it'll be (relatively) much more difficult to get to the regular phone.

  • That's nice (Score:5, Informative)

    by Majix (139279) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:06PM (#32399664) Homepage

    Gee, thanks for "allowing" this, you're all too kind. Of course the Nokia N900 [nokia.com] has had Skype over WiFi and 3G since last fall, and with the latest update does Skype-to-Skype video calls as wells (over whatever TCP/IP connection you have of course, including 3G)! But I'm sure it will be a great innovation and a lot of fuss about it when the iPhone 4G or whatever invents video calls later on.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bushing (20804)

      Gee, thanks for "allowing" this, you're all too kind. [...] But I'm sure it will be a great innovation and a lot of fuss about it when the iPhone 4G or whatever invents video calls later on.

      You do realize that the company that is "allowing this" is Skype, not Apple, right? There was an Apple-imposed restriction on apps using VOIP over 3G, but that was lifted back in January -- hell, that's even in the summary of this article! Other apps that were released or updated since then have supported it.

      The news here is that Skype finally updated their own app, and Skype may start charging for their service when used over 3G -- money that would go to them, not to Apple, AT&T or anyone else. That

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      The problem isn't apple in this case, its AT&T. Apple has had to limit features by request ( demand ) due to AT&T's inability to handle the traffic.

    • My Sony Ericsson phone on "3 Mobile" has completely free skype to skype calls. They don't even charge data. Skype to phone calls only cost skype credit, and not data either.

      3 are mad.

  • Skype has been noticeably absent from the VOIP-over-3G landscape. Until today

    Skype has been doing VOIP over 3G on my Sprint HTC Windows Mobile phone since 2007. And fring has also been doing that for almost as long. Bonus: for several years I have proudly demonstrated my nose hairs to a chosen few with Video VOIP using Microsoft Portrait on Windows Mobile. I hear that Apple's newest phone may finally have Video VOIP thus summer... I guess we will have to eagerly anticipate a bunch of Apple Astroturfers chiming in with "Video VOIP has been noticeably absent from the mobile phone landscape... until today"-type comments.

    • by teg (97890)

      Bonus: for several years I have proudly demonstrated my nose hairs to a chosen few with Video VOIP using Microsoft Portrait on Windows Mobile (...)I hear that Apple's newest phone may finally have Video VOIP thus summer...

      Windows Mobile, eh? The platform that Microsoft has discontinued due to failure and generally being awkward, and Skype dropped [zdnet.com]. You can't download Skype for Windows mobile anymore.

      As for voice chat on cell phones, it was awkward (and thus completely unused, other than once for tryin

      • by meehawl (73285)

        The platform that Microsoft has discontinued

        Actually, it's more like forked.

        The legacy 6.5.x (I am counting its equivalent Win CE here, because WM 6.5.x is basically a profile for that) is so ingrained in so many vertical markets that it will likely be around for another decade, at least. Especially in Asia, where the stylus+resisitive+inking combo is essential for quick messaging.

        The reason to fork the platform is because MS simply wasn't getting enough traction in the US,and moving to a new codebase that

        • the Second Coming of Apple's Phone (I'm counting the ROKR as V1).

          Shhh, the fanboys will have you murdered in your sleep for claiming that the ROKR was anything other than entirely a Motorola creation with absolutely nothing to do with Apple, no how, no way, no sir...

    • by alvinrod (889928)

      Video VOIP was around before that and the concept of video phones has been around for decades. It's funny that it probably won't really take off until Apple or Google add it to their devices though. Apple and Google have taken a lot of technology that's already been around or isn't particularly new, but they actually make that technology usable for the 95% of people who are non-technophiles.

  • Please Skype if you are reading this? Skype is great! I talk to land lines for pennies an hour and if I call a mobile I know it costs more. Now they are saying effectively that if you call from a mobile it will cost more and I can live with that. We have an excellent wireless router and skype from my iphone is often better than with my voip service which is free in US and Canada. I am always chipping away at the Euros in my account because I am seldom doing skype to skype. I am willing to pay something mo
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      In the UK, I have a phone that includes a skype client on it. It uses the regular voice network for voice calls and costs me absolutely nohing for skype to skype calls, I can also do calls to foreign country numbers using my skype credit. In fact, you can get a pay as you go card and not have to refill it or anything to use the skype functionality.

  • Dream on.

    What will happen is the data plan price will go up if voip on iphone ( and others ) become popular and you will STILL pay for voice.

  • Don't forget folks - if you have a Verizon BlackBerry, the deal isn't the same. When you make a call through Skype over 3G, it uses minutes from your voice plan. See their website [verizonwireless.com] [WARNING: There's Flash on that page]. You get free Skype-to-Skype calls, and international calling goes against your Skype credits. So it is still beneficial to have it, but not for making calls to domestic US phone numbers. Now - I don't know how the technology works - if Skype is actually routing through the voice network

  • How does this make AT&T less horrible?

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