Skype for iPhone just got a little better, thanks to the addition of video capabilities.
That's right, catching up to the competition-we're looking at you, Fring-Skype users on the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch fourth generation, or with iOS 4.0 or higher, can make and receive free Skype video calls over a WiFi or 3G connection. (Keep in mind that additional data charges will apply to the latter.)
What this means is that colleagues can more easily discuss work details, grandparents can coo in real time at grandbabies, and-as Skype shows off in a video on its blog, offering truly little additional incentive, in one person's opinion-flabby men with morning breath can dance in their skivvies for friends.
With the new app, users can also make video calls to friends on their computers, place free audio calls to anyone also on Skype, as well as call landlines and mobile phones around the world at discounted rates. Video calls can be received by owners of the iPod touch 3rd generation and iPad, and calls can be made between devices with the new app and desktops running Skype for Windows 4.2 or up, Skype for Mac 2.8 or up, or Skype for Linux with the ASUS videophone.
On Christmas Eve, Engadget delivered the news that the new app was arriving, after discovering, on the Skype site, a help document for the app, which was soon afterward removed.
Although Skype has been slow to get its act together in enabling video calling on the iPhone, the capability is exploding, as the Pew Research Center recently reported-of some 3,000 American adults recently surveyed, nearly 20 percent have already participated in a video call from their computer or phone. (Among 18- to 29-year-old Web users, that figure has climbed to 29 percent.)
At the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Skype Platform General Manager Jonathan Christensen should have a lot more to say on how ubiquitous the technology is likely to become. Christensen is slated to participate in a panel called, "Video Calling Gets Ready for Prime Time," which will pose the question, per the CES brochure, "Has the time finally come for video conferencing to go mainstream?"
On Dec. 9, Fring celebrated its one-year anniversary of enabling mobile video calling-of which it has enabled more than 100 million minutes during that time (not to mention 1.5 billion mobile voice calling minutes). It used the opportunity to introduce a new capability, dynamic video quality (DVQ), which adjusts video bit rate and frame rate according to a user's device and bandwidth during the call, for optimal video quality.
"In the year since pioneering mobile video calls, we've seen that users' network conditions change dramatically during and between video calls. That's the nature of mobile experiences in heterogeneous networks," Alex Nerst, co-founder and CTO of Fring, said in a statement. "DVQ lets users make the best use of the peer-to-peer network capacity available at any moment during a video call, regardless of [whether] they're stepping into an elevator, commuting on a train or simply walking away from their WiFi hub."