Thursday evening I was checking out Truphone’s latest release only to learn that their somewhat delayed version that provides access to Skype is still on hold. At that time I went browsing for other applications on the App Store and came across one that I have had previous experience with on the BlackBerry: IM+ for Skype for iPhone (and iPod Touch). And, on further investigation I also found an upgraded version of IM+ for Skype for BlackBerry.
From my iPhone I made a call to Ken Camp who received it on Skype on his PC. Call quality at my end was excellent, given the audio bandwidth limitations of any mobile phone. I also did some IM activity to check that it worked.
The latest release of IM+ for BlackBerry not only allows you to make SkypeOut calls but also to access the native BlackBerry address book. This is the first “Skype on Mobile” BlackBerry offering to have such deep integration. I will be looking to see what impact this application has on battery life as RIM has recently provided new API’s to incorporate battery management into third party applications. This version also has the ability to set up and participate in multi-party calls.
On initial glance, IM+ for Skype on the iPhone does not have the ability to access your Address Book for contacts’ landline/mobile phone numbers.
Given that I really need a few days to fully experience all the features and warts of these two applications, I’ll withhold further comment at this time; this situation does present a unique opportunity to evaluate how an application integrates into the iPhone and the BlackBerry platforms respectively. In the meantime, however, if you try out these applications and have some experiences to report, please post them in the Comments.
Keep in mind that, when making calls with IM+ for Skype, at a minimum you will be using local minutes on your mobile phone plan. The data channel is used for Instant Messaging activity, Contacts and setting up a voice call to a Skype or SkypeOut contact. Further information on charges. Especially be aware that calls made when “roaming” outside your home country or region may incur significant charges.
One caveat: all this access to Skype requires that you keep a handle on how many platforms are logged into Skype. At one point, being concurrently logged in on a laptop, a desktop, an iPhone, a BlackBerry and a Nokia E71 (using Skype Lite), I found that presence was not consistent across platforms and some IM chat messages were not getting to all the platforms. But then again coordination of presence and setting priorities for multiple login situations is something that I hope Skype is investigating as they roll out Skype Everywhere.
(Yes, I am aware that Skype can also be accessed on the iPhone via Fring; however, call quality has not been consistent enough to consider it a reliable service.)