Skype Mobile (Beta) [updated]

Following this post about a new Skype Mobile (Beta), I couldn’t resist and installed the latest version of Skype Mobile on the Nokia N95.

Upon registering your mobile number on the Skype Mobile download page, an sms will arrive with a personalized download link. The application itself is about 360 kb, installs pretty quickly (I always use the phone’s internal memory – not the one provided on the microSD card) and it starts within seconds.

Here’s what it looks like:
(pls don’t be irritated by the German language selection)

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So far, so good.

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To edit a message, the S60 editor comes up (same as on SMS, OperaMini, etc.) and you can type your text.

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It even shows you the current credit – nice!

Multitasking apparently does not work that well, as it suddenly displayed the following error message and closed itself.

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Could be due to the running screenshot application that was trying to capture the screen as a background process.

What I like about Skype Mobile:

  • huge fonts, clear interface
  • makes use of full screen
  • shows Skype Credit

What I don’t like about Skype Mobile:

  • application is still in beta state, albeit being released as version 0.9.26.0 which implies that it’s close to a final release
  • only covers Skype
    (as opposed to Fring that just works like a charm and provides some more services, e.g. MSN, Twitter, GoogleTalk, etc.)
  • text input is in an extra window (apparently due to the S60 standard setup) – Fring really solved this in a much better way
  • upon starting the application, it tells you that it will charge you extra for incoming calls. Charge for incoming calls that are coming from another computer? Is this still VoIP? Not so on Fring!
  • conversations are only accessible through the list of events, not as different tabs
  • text from conversations (e.g. hyperlinks) isn’t accessible, not even for the copy & paste method (this btw also doesn’t work on Fring)

Let’s compare that with the Fring experience on the N95:

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Fring really is that All-In-One solution that a) just works out of the box, even as a background task and b) provides much more information on useful information (e.g. network, battery, different tabs for open chats).

Verdict: Skype Mobile (Beta) (for Nokia N95/S60!) should go back to the labs – and maybe also remain there, as Fring already does the job.

I don’t know how far Skype is involved in Fring’s business (investors?), or how closed Skype’s API is for Fring (now and in future), but I just don’t see any sense in this Skype Mobile application if Fring is so much more advanced and accepted by users. The only reason I’ve left it on the phone is because it shows the Skype Credit which Fring does not. Other than that, Skype Mobile gives me the impression that it was created for the typical Windows Mobile user who normally uses a pen and a QWERTY keyboard for text entry and navigation. And who will definately appriciate it if his future phone comes pre-loaded with Skype Mobile (at least – that’s what they had in mind, right?).

Also, I just appreciate how Fring is integrated into S60, showing all relevant background information from the host system (network, battery, etc.) and still provides it’s own navigation. Skype Mobile, on the other hand, is one of those stand-alone versions that you as a user will not want to minimize and close down as a background process. The service itself takes up system resources, and if if does not provide the same flexibility as other services, there’s no reason to keep this battery drainer running in the background.

Way forward: what I’d like to see is a combined eBay/Skype solution, similar to what Yahoo! created with it’s Yahoo! Go application. Something that adds value to an otherwise plain service. Currently, not all phones are capable of multitasking, and if battery drainage is still an issue, I think it’s much wiser to offer an All-In-One solution that either provides maximum connectivity (e.g. Fring) or one that integrates different web services (e.g. eBay) and transforms them for the mobile platfrom.

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