Skype on Android / Verizon = Crippleware

27 03 2010

At long last Skype is available on my Droid!!!! The news on the new app is Good, Bad and Ugly.

Click to enlarge

The Good.

  1. Cheap calls to international destinations directly from your cell phone. This is Huge!
  2. Skype calls do not use any of your wireless plan minutes. Yak all day long if you want to! Especially useful for those long tech support calls to 1-800 numbers during peak hours.
  3. All of your Skype contacts are automatically imported/synced when you sign-in to Skype.
  4. Contact presence is indicated. The online contacts filter to the top of the list, just like with the desktop application.
  5. Call Quality is good.
  6. It’s available at last – Yippee!!!

The Bad

  1. For some reason Skype are not promoting the Android Market as the primary deployment method, and their chosen deployment method via SMS hyperlinks is broken, see my experiences later in this post.
  2. Privacy settings from your Skype are not copied to the mobile app. I was setup to receive calls form anyone, whereas my Skype privacy settings are only to receive calls from my contacts. Check the settings a soon as you install the app to make sure things are the way you want them.
  3. Security is lessened. Calls go to/from a 404 area code number. your Skype-to-Skype calls are no longer encrypted by Skype from end to end. Verizon could be required by authorities to tap into your Skype calls.

The Ugly – (and it is really ugly).

  • It doesn’t work on WiFi, only 3G. And that’s by design, it isn’t changing anytime soon. Yikes this is awful.
    One of the things I was looking forward to when Android got a true Skype application was the ability to make calls where cell signals are weak or non-existent. Like inside metal structures which many commercial buildings are these days. Sorry, no can do. The calls are made to via a Skype gateway using a number in an Atlanta GA area code 404 (YMMV).
    By  not supporting WiFi, Verizon are now encouraging a lot more traffic on their data network. An avid Skype user may now elect to turn WiFi off on his/her Droid permanently in order to be available to their Skype contacts at all times. The web browsing experience is faster in WiFi, so now we have to choose between fast browsing/No Skype or Skype/Slow Web Browsing. When Verizon roll-out out 4g it won’t be such a problem.

Well there is more good news than bad/ugly, so I’ll be keeping the app installed on my phone for those international calls.

Click to Enlarge graphic

Skype for Mobile “Day One” Test Drive Experiences

Here are my experiences with installing and using the new Skype for Android app.

I followed the email link announcing the product and entered in my cell number on Skype’s website. Skype sends you an SMS message with a download link. I clicked on the link and was told that unfortunately my phone is not supported.

Hmmmm. Not what the email or Skype website say.

Instead I visited the Android Market and installed the application in seconds. One wonders why Skype are not promoting their product via the Market, sending an SMS message is sooooo 20th Century. All they need to do is post a barcode on their website like everyone else does to take you to the correct app in the market.

I fired Skype up; ready to make my first call. I entered my credentials and was informed that “Skype does not currently work on WiFi, and requires switching to Verizon Wireless data network connection. This may affect other apps using WiFi connection”. You are then presented with the choice of turning off WiFi or exiting the Skype application. Yikes!!!

The Skype client calls a special Skype gateway number using the Verizon voice network to make Skype calls. Skype presence and contacts are automatically loaded from your account. The call quality is great, both making and receiving calls works fine.

It is unclear to me why Skype and/or Verizon and/or Google have chosen to cripple the Skype application on the Droid. Are Verizon trying to promote their voice network? Are they mistakenly trying to protect their data network from overload? Are Google trying to prevent Skype being better than Google Voice? Let me know what you think.

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One response

7 04 2010
Vernon

Ran into the same install problem on my BlackBerry Storm2 with wifi. Was told my phone isn’t compatible even thought it is on the list. Was told I couldn’t download it using wifi and that might cause the problem of not recognizing that I am a compatible phone. So while not on wifi I tried to install still being told not compatible. Unfortunately haven’t found it on the BB App store so it is still not installed. Not a major concern at the moment when I have some time I will tackle it and see what my options are.

Thanks for the post

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