The Internet phone service giant Skype, recently acquired by Microsoft, launched an application on Apple's App Store that lets users access WiFi hotspots around the world and pay with Skype Credit. Aimed at travelers abroad and those who always want Internet access, the free app's connection rates start at $0.06 cents a minute. The service is available for the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch (running iOS 4.1 or above with multitasking) at more than 1 million WiFi hotspots around the world, including hotels, airports, train stations, convention centers, bars and restaurants. There are no limits on the amount of data a user can upload or download, the company noted in a release.
"Skype WiFi is great for travelers all over the world: It's a must-have app, for your iPhone or iPad whether you're on a business trip or enjoying holidays abroad. Skype WiFi offers you a cost-effective and easy way to get online with an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad," the company wrote in a blog post. "Paying on a per-minute basis for WiFi Internet access is great when you're abroad as you can avoid data roaming charges when you update Facebook, send a tweet, make a Skype call or upload photos."
Skype recently launched a free application geared for the iPad, which is currently available via the App Store, and includes features such as the ability to make video calls with the front and back cameras and instant message contacts. For the iPad version of the application, users need enough room for the 16.3MB download, which requires iOS 4.0 or later.
The company launched the original Skype application for iPhones in 2009, and was one of the top five free iPhone applications in 2010 according to Apple. The service lets users choose a pay-as-you-go account with Skype Credit, or get a monthly subscription and send text messages to mobile phones for low rates. An SMS (Short Message Service) text message can be sent by opening a contact and selecting "Send SMS" or by opening the dial pad, typing in the number you wish to reach and then typing your message.
A few weeks ago, Skype rolled out the beta version of the Skype Support Network, an online community where customers can learn about Skype from experts, find answers and share information through topic-specific discussion forums. The community is available through Skype.com, and starting this week, is also available from Skype's Facebook account page.
As wireless Internet networks expand and consumers increasingly adopt mobile devices for their Web-access capabilities, Skype continues to expand its presence on Internet-connected devices, including handsets and tablets running Google's Android operating system. In June, Skype released an updated version of its Skype for Android application, Skype for Android 2.0. With the new version, users will be able to make and receive free one-to-one video calls over Skype between their Android phone and other Skype contacts on the iPhone, Mac, Windows PCs as well as TVs.