Skype for iPhone - All I Want From It Is....
Digium takes on the "fax issue" with Fax For Asterisk...

Skype on the iPhone: Some initial thoughts...

Unless you remained under a rock last week, you know that Skype was released for the iPhone, somewhat predictably rocketed to the #1 downloaded iPhone app, shot past 1 million downloads in two days and then just today went past two million downloads. As Skype's Peter Parkes' writes:
I’m back with an update – and it’s no surprise that we’ve stormed past the 2 million download milestone. This means an average rate of 2-3 downloads per second since the app first appeared on the 31st March.

2-3 downloads per second! You have to think Skype's got to be rather happy about those numbers. Jim Courtney had a good post rounding up some of the Skype for iPhone coverage.

The good news, for me, was that Skype for the iPhone did include support for persistent group chats, which I noted was my one big desire for the iPhone client.

I've been using the client now off and on for the past week, and thought I'd write down a few initial impressions:

  • Audio quality - I've not actually used it for too many calls, but when I have the audio quality (over WiFi) has been great. I'm looking forward to trying it out more whenever I next travel. Interestingly it seems to use the G.729 codec versus any of the ones that Skype developed themselves.

  • Group chats are supported, but are buggy - As I said above, the good news is that group chats, both public chats and also non-public group chats, are supported by the iPhone client. The bad news is that the groupchat support is still a bit buggy (and yes, I realize that it's a 1.0 release). I found a wacky behavior (which I reported) where the iPhone client would only show you the 10 last updates in a group chat, which made it kind of useless.

    I've also noticed that when I go into some group chats in the iPhone client, they don't have the most recent updates in them, which you could expect... but they don't ever seem to update. Now, this could be part of the known issue Skype has with multiple Skype clients simultaneously using the same Skype ID. The updating of groupchats between multiple Skype clients sharing the same ID is a bit funky with regular PC/Mac clients, so it's probably no surprise that it could be strange with the iPhone client in the mix. I'll have to try it sometimes without being signed into Skype anywhere else.

    Still, the great thing is that I can update group chats while I am mobile and, if things work right, also catch up on what's been written in those chats.

  • Battery life - Somewhat predictably, I've found that keeping the Skype For iPhone app running does eat up the battery a good bit. At one point when I left it sitting on my desk for a while purposely, I did see that the battery went down considerably - and my iPhone got a bit warm, too. Now perhaps this is because I do have so many chats open. I did, however, expect this to be the case. I can see myself using the Skype For iPhone client primarily for dipping into the Skype flow to send messages or catch up on what's going on. I don't see myself using it for an extended period of time while mobile... although of course I can always plug it in.

All in all I've been quite pleased with how the Skype For iPhone client works in my initial usage. I need to use it while traveling to really get a sense of how well it performs. It does, of course, suffer from the two inherent issues in the Apple iPhone platform: 1) you can only use the voice portion over WiFi; and 2) there is no background processing - any app has to run in the foreground. Of these, #2 is really the larger annoyance because you can't be doing something else on the iPhone and still receive Skype IM messages or calls. Still, it's great to have a Skype client on the iPhone.

What do you think? Have you installed it and tried it out? What have you found works well? Or doesn't work well?

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either subscribing to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter or

Technorati Tags: , ,