Since 2010 Skype’s most demanding challenge has been support of smartphones and wireless carriers. As with Skype’s original launch in 2003 a convergence of infrastructure in 2010 has made Skype support for mobile devices more feasible:
- smartphones: faster processors, higher resolution displays, support for 3G/4G/LTE networks, background processing
- widespread uptake of (Apple) iOS 4/5 and Android wireless devices
- wireless carriers: emergence of 3G/HSPA+/4G/LTE networks with data speeds and capacity required to handle the real time data demands of voice (and video) over Internet protocol services
- large number of users who can now handle video calls encompassing the Mac user base and Skype’s user base
Entering fall 2012 Skype now offers carrier-agnostic applications on:
- iPod Touch (later generations), iPhone: Skype for iPhone
- iPad: Skype for iPad
- Android phones (version 2.2 or later): Skype for Android
- updated to support tablet displays (November 2012)
- Symbian phones (Nokia): Skype for Symbian
- Nokia N900
- and, of course, MacBooks and Windows laptops that can access a WiFi access point or a 3G/4G/LTE network
Much anticipated has been the emergence of tablet-specific versions of Skype on the iPad and Android-based tablet such as the Samsung Galaxy series.The larger display presents some interesting user interface opportunities.
Skype on mobile also allows you to use Skype credit and Skype Calling Plan subscriptions for SkypeOut calls not only to your Skype contacts but also your smartphone address book contacts. And a dial pad allows you to enter phone numbers not in your Contact directories.
At the same time carrier-specific versions of Skype, called Skype mobile, are available on Verizon in the U.S. and Hutcheson Whampoa’s 3 services in seven European countries, Hong Kong and Australia. In this scenario, the application uses the carrier’s voice channel for the voice conversation while using its data channel for Instant Messaging (chat and presence) and voice call signaling. Verizon supports Android and BlackBerry smartphones for this service while 3 supports a wider range of phones.
Two interesting developments that have been announced as of June 2011:
- Verizon is partnering with Skype to launch 4G services – Skype mobile Video – which will include an ability to handle Skype video on several designated smartphones and tablets
- Skype and TELUS (in Canada) have announced the first service supporting the native iPhone and Android applications but adding in customer support, billing Skype credits to a user’s TELUS account and launch of a Skype-specific LG Android phone.