Applicable to both Skype for iPhone and Skype for iPad, a Skype for iOS5 3.5 hotfix released to the Apple App Store earlier this week restores Skype chat sessions on the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad to pre-version 3.5 performance.
While Skype on my iPhone or my iPad is not my primary platform for using Skype, it has become an important backup for monitoring Skype chat threads when I don’t have access to a PC. I could at least follow a thread and make a short response, if appropriate in context. (Full disclosure: I have over 500 Skype contacts which challenges the performance of Skype on these devices due to presence and other ongoing “tracking” issues.)
While the iPhone’s processor speed limits performance relative to responsiveness on a PC, chat sessions with individuals had usually been fairly quick in responses while a little bit of patience was required to follow group chat sessions, especially with more than 50 participants.
However, the release of Skype 3.5 for iOS5 in late September, while introducing some new features and modifying the user interface, also degraded the performance of chat activity. Going to a group chat session would totally freeze the application on either device; even one-to-one chat sessions were unforgivingly slow to follow and respond to. Launching Skype for iPad had long durations bringing up the most recent conversations. I had reported these issues (and I’m sure amongst many others) through Skype’s bug reporting channels; this issue is also raised in several reviews at the iTunes App Store.
Earlier this week I found a new hotfix version 3.5.454 of Skype for iPhone/iPod Touch and Skype for iPad available on the Apple App Store. I have downloaded it and tested it. On a couple of occasions when away from the home office the past few days I found that Skype chat activity on both devices has returned to its pre-version 3.5 performance levels and can once again be a resource for monitoring Skype chat activity while away from a PC. As for group chats, they still take a one to three minutes to catch up but once the content is there, it is fairly responsive.
I have tested Skype-to-Skype calls and SkypeOut calls; for the few times I use this feature, it seems to be working fine.
One caveat: I notice some reviews of this upgrade report that Bluetooth functionality, initially available with Skype for iOS5 3.5, is broken. Update: on my own testing with my car audio by calling Skype Test Call, the Bluetooth connection always attempted to connect but only held the connection to the actual call on one out of three calls.
Bottom line: if you have not done so already, go to the Apple App Store and upgrade your Skype for iPhone and Skype for iPad (it should automatically be offered as an upgrade). It’s not yet at the point where it can take over for Skype on your PC but at least it’s workable for those times when you’re away from a PC. Skype still has some work to do to get to a PC-level of performance at least in terms of chat operation.
For further performance improvement I would still like to see an option to create a subset of my Skype account’s Contacts via the “Category” feature of Skype for Windows or “Tags” feature of Skype for Mac1. These can then become the Contacts followed on an mobile device. (At least until we see dual core 2.0 GHz processors on these devices.) This would also assist in addressing the ongoing battery drain issue, especially on the iPhone/iPod Touch. (I will continue to monitor this upgrade to see if there is any improvement in the battery drain.)
1Note that “Categories” in Skype for Windows become assigned as “Tags” in Skype for Mac.