Remember the days when it was impossible to keep in touch with friends and family while traveling abroad or even cross country, because the phone bills would be so astronomically high? Forget about cell phone calling. We all thought our problems were solved with the advent of Skype, but even Skype requires getting to an Internet cafe and hoping your Skype contacts will be online. Well, the days of being chained to your computer or stuck in an Internet cafe are over thanks to Skype Mobile. Like Skype, Skype Mobile allows you to chat with people around the world, but this time around you can chat from your mobile phone, bringing a whole new level of connectivity to your life.
Skype to Skype Calls
The Skype Mobile application, available for Verizon BlackBerry or similar smartphones like Android, offers unlimited free Skype to Skype calls, which means less time in front of a computer and more time chatting with your friends. What’s so cool about this, is that you can open up the app, see who’s online and call them from wherever you are–whether you’re sipping cocktails in Paris or eating tapas in Madrid, if Mom and Dad are online, you can give them a quick call and share your experience FOR FREE. Or if you’re feeling saucy ,you can call any telephone number from the Skype Mobile application at a much lower rate than that of your cell phone carrier.
Like I said, Skype Mobile is a completely free application that can be downloaded in the Android marketplace or Blackberry app world. I’m using a Motorola Droid on the Verizon network so once I downloaded the Skype app I was ready for business. Downloading the app just meant agreeing to a few terms, like that Skype will not be used for emergency calls, but rather those will be completed on the Verizon network. Once I agreed, the app prompted me to enter my Skype username and password. Of course I forgot my login and password so I had to refer to Skype.com to retrieve this information since there was no option within the app to do so. My recommendation would be to set-up the app before you embark on your road trip and remember your password, because there’s also no option to “remember” it once you sign into the app. Once I logged in, the app asked if I wanted to import any of my regular contacts into Skype – I of course clicked yes, and my Skype contact list grew by about seven people. The Skype Mobile app lets you add three types of contacts to your Skype contact list: Skype contacts, SkypeOut contacts, and contacts imported from the phone’s native phone book, all of which are indicated by a different icon. You can also change your user profile within the Skype Mobile app with options like Full Name, your various numbers, and Mood.
At First Glance
Once you’re signed in, the app immediately displays three options: Contacts, Events, and Call phones. In your contacts list it shows the user’s presence like available or unavailable to chat. Aside from giving you the red or green light, users can also choose a custom message like “working from home” or “working on Skype Mobile review.” To set your status, click the Menu button on your phone and click “Set mood.” After that you can click on any Skype user, and make free Skype-to-Skype calls. So I decided to give it a try by calling my furthest away friend, Ville Vesterinen of Arctic Startup all the way in Finland. Partly, because he’s awesome, and partly because I was writing this post at an outdoor Starbucks and wanted to brag about the fabulous New York City weather. I clicked on his Skype username and ring ring, sure enough I was chatting with Ville (also using Skype Mobile) on his mobile phone on the streets of Helsinki. I was even put on hold while he ordered a coffee. Although it may seem trivial, what’s so cool about Skype Mobile is the fact that it’s Skype on-the-go. In the past, we’ve both only chatted from our desks at home. Never before have we chatted while out and about. If he hadn’t picked up, I could leave him a message that would be sent to his wireless network’s voicemail rather than Skype voicemail. Although this is only an option if the user had purchased Skype Voicemail.
Calling Non Skype Numbers
The other cool thing about Skype is that you can call non Skype mobile users from your cell phone at a much lower rate than your cell phone carrier would offer. Just click on the “Call” tab and enter the phone number of choice or insert it from your phone book by clicking the phone book button. Calls are only supported by Skype when you’re calling an international number. If you attempt to call a U.S. number, you will receive a pop up that says “Calls to US numbers will be carried by Verizon Wireless, not Skype, and charged according to your calling plan” and you’ll be prompted to use the Verizon network rather than the Skype app to complete this function. You can purchase phone credits on a monthly or pay-as-you-go options on Skype.com for a lower price than what the regular phone company or even mobile company would offer. This was where it gets tricky. Calling Skype-to-Skype makes sense–click on name, choose “call,” and you’re done. With international calling, it gets a little more difficult. Although there’s a prompt explaining how to dial, I found it unclear and it took me a few tries to call my friend’s international cell phone. I knew I was mis-dialing because I kept getting the popup “the function cannot be carried out” and that I should use my regular Verizon network. If you click Menu, you can access a Help section within the app that covers topics like Making calls, Instant Messages, Contacts, and a More Help that brings you to Skype.com. The help section is set-up in a question and answer format and helped me get through my international dialing conundrum. I eventually got the right combination of numbers and my Skype credits were being utilized.
Chatting via IM or Text
Like the full version of Skype, Skype Mobile lets you chat with your contacts. On Android, there are two ways to initiate a chat: one from the “Call” tab and one from the “Events” tab. To initiate a chat from the “Call” tab, simply click on the username you’d like to chat with and various options will pop up: call, send IM, show profile, block, or remove. Once you click on “send IM,” you can chat back and forth. The “events” tab will show you whether anyone has tried to IM you while you were away or unavailable or anyone who has requested you as a contact on Skype. When you’re ready to respond to the IM, click on the “event,” which says something like “Brian Ping 12:54 pm” so you can click on it and respond. You can also add multiple people to your chat and change the subject of your chat
To add a contact, click on menu and then “Add a Contact.” From there you can search the Skype directory, add a phone number, or important a phone number from your phone. Once you find the person you’re looking for, you can send them a personalized message like “Hey Bob, it’s Lydia, just wanted to add you to my Skype contacts, call me anytime.” Once you click “add,” the message will be sent to your potential contact and they can either accept or reject you. The same goes for people who add you as a contact. In your “Events” tab you will see an invitation from a user that you click on to accept or reject them.
Voicemail & Call Forwarding
The downside to this app is that you cannot receive calls to a purchased online number like Google Voice through Skype Mobile without paying. If someone wants to call me, they have to enter my real telephone number rather than my Google voice number, which means that all the guys I’ve given my number too will not be able to reach me via Skype mobile – Sorry! The other downside is that video chat, one of the coolest features for regular Skype, is not supported on the mobile app.
Overall, the app is straightforward and easy-to-use. The voice quality is consistently great and I love the way Skype Mobile liberates you from your computer. However, the biggest downside to this app is that the experience is not totally independent of using a computer, since you have to purchase credits on the Skype site and set certain preferences like voicemail on Skype.com. However, considering this is a free app, it really is an amazing way to connect with your Skype contacts on-the-go and it can save you money. There is no doubt that Skype Mobile will probably change the way I chit chat with my family and friends, whether I’m across the world or across the country.
-IMs on the Skype network
-Voicemail on your regular cell phone network
-Skype Mobile to non-Skype numbers
Free Skype-to-Skype Calls, Very easy-to-use interface, low rates for international calls
Calling non-Skype numbers is rather difficult and there is very little guidance, you have to buy phone credits via Skype online rather than directly via the mobile app, you basically have to set up all preferences on Skype.com rather than the mobile app itself: this includes passwords, credits, setting up caller ID, and all paid features