Skype on the iPhone. What’s all the fuss about?

If you've been following me on twitter then you'll already know that shortly after Mashable announced that Skype for iPhone was on iTunes, I very quickly downloaded my own version. To my dismay though after installing it on my iPhone I couldn't get it to work. I was racking my brain as to why this was so. 

To be honest my first thought was that Skype had done the Pandora trick and made it exclusive to folks in the US but upon checking twitter, I found a tweet from @illuminateceo, who is Beijing who's said

Skype for iPhone 3G working fine 4 me from Beijing on WiFi. It's impressive, actually. Very iPhoney, very Skypey, and no wooop start sound

so that ruled out the regional restrictions.
My next was to look on Twitter Search (as you can see for issue such as these, I default to Twitter rather than Google). I found a comment that perhaps Clippy was the cause for my woes. So firstly I toggled off Clippy in from SBSettings. No Effect. Secondly I uninstalled it from Cydia. This also had no effect. Each time I tried to run Skype I would get the splash screen for exactly 5 seconds and then it would close and return to the Springboard. To cut a long story short (the long story can be found here) I ended up restoring my iPhone and starting with a clean slate. Having done so Skype worked "as advertised" with pretty call quality but not noticeably better than with Fring or Nimbuzz. It was only after I did all this did I discover from @eChinacities of a blog post by @zachnfine that explains that for Jailbroken iPhones I can get Skype to work in Safe Mode.
This leads me to the whole point of VOIP on the iPhone. The one thing that hobbles the iPhone compared to a Windows Mobile device (and incidentally makes the iPhone a lot more stable) is the inability for programs to run the background. Sure on a jailbroken iPhone you can install Backgrounder but it's really only a band-aid that doesn't really allow for multi-tasking. 
So for those who want to know, the Skype app is pretty good. The call quality is good and it includes all the features you'd expect. The main problem is that it can't run in the background so in the same way you'd use Skype on your computer or even on a Windows Mobile device, which put simply, if the device is asleep in your pocket, you can't receive calls. You can't keep it online to receive internet calls and if you want to keep your iPhone jailbroken you actually have to switch to safe mode to make a call. I'm not just talking about Skype. I'm referring to Palringo, Nimbuzz, Fring and any IM/VOIP app you might want to develop. Don't get me wrong, if you want to take advantage of the cheap calls/ free internet calls have to offer, then the Skype app will probably meet your needs but if you're looking for something that will enable Skype to be as functional on your iPhone as it is on your computer, then you're barking up the wrong device.
That's all I have to say at this stage. Now I have decide to break my iPhone back out of jail.

  1. This summer, with the release of iPhone software v3.0, Apple will finally enable their promised push notification service. When this happens, instead of running in the background on the phone and using ram and cpu, the online service will be able to message the user’s phone even if they’re not currently running the app, and then the user will be notified of an incoming message/call and will be able to run the app and respond. Hopefully that will do the trick, and users like you and me can stop lamenting the lack of backgrounding.

  2. nedbenj

    Actually all you have to do is update mobile substrate via Cydia. Updating to version 0.9.2803-1 (or newer) of mobile substrate will solve the issue.

  3. Once your phone’s jailbroken, you might check out the app “Backgrounder” to run Skype in the background. I’m trying it now to see how it all works.

  4. Hey are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own.
    Do you need any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • dedlam

      I’m the technical equivalent of a ventriloquist dummy. It looks pretty convincing but I’m not really talking… So no it’s not hard to set up a WordPress blog. Just make sure you follow the instructions.

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