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Apple iPhone gets Skype service

Free Skype internet calls in Wi-Fi iPhone zones

3G iphone

The second-generation iPhone 3G

Apple iPhone internet users can now benefit from free internet phone calls at Wi-Fi hotspots, following the launch by Skype of a new iPhone App – Skype for iPhone.  

Skype for iPhone is also available to iPod Touch users and is available for free from Apple’s App Store on both the iPhone and the iPod Touch, or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.

What is Skype?

Skype is the UK’s most popular voice over internet protocol (Voip) service. When you make a Voip phone call, your voice is carried over an internet connection rather than a traditional phone line. 

Your speech is broken up and carried over the internet as blocks of digital data (the same way that something such as an email would be carried), before being turned back into speech at the other end.

Skype has been available using a computer and a fixed-line broadband service for several years.

Free internet calls from iPhone

The new, free iPhone application from Skype, available now from the Apple App Store, lets you:

  • Make free Skype-to-Skype calls using your iPhone from any Wi-Fi zone to other Skype users in the UK and worldwide
  • Send/receive instant messages on your iPhone to/from individuals or groups via 3G, Wi-Fi, GPRS or EDGE
  • Use your Iphone to see when Skype contacts are online/available to exchange instant messages or talk

Skype for iPhone also lets you make Skype internet phone calls to landlines and other mobile networks, however these are not free and are instead charged at Skype’s standard rates. 

For phone calls to UK landlines and mobile networks, this is unlikely to be much benefit as most iPhone users will have inclusive mobile minutes as part of their contract. However, Skype for iPhone users may benefit from Skype’s low charges to call international destinations. 

Skype’s iPhone rivals

The iPhone is not the first mobile phone to offer free Skype calls. Skype has been available on mobile network 3 since 2006 and 3 has three dedicated Skype handsets, including the INQ1 (for more on this handset, see the Which? review of mobile phones). Unlike the iPhone, 3 lets you access Skype over the mobile internet network, not just in Wi-Fi hotspots.

Nor is Skype the first company to offer an internet phone call iPhone app – rival applications from Fring and TruPhone are already available for the iPhone. 

However, Skype says that Skype software for the iPhone has been the number one request among its users, and this combined with the appeal of the iPhone may make this App a popular offer.

Which? iPhone and Voip reviews

Take a look at the Which? iPhone 3G interactive guide for advice on how to make the most of your iPhone. Or if the iPhone’s not for you, the Which? review of mobile phones can help you work your way through the maze of mobile handset features. 

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