Today Skype updated its official iPhone app and version 3.0 brings with it video calling over WiFi and 3G. Two-way Skype-to-Skype video calling can take place between two phones and between phones and computers (Windows, Mac, or Linux) at no charge. In addition to the iPhone 4, the app is also compatible with the iPhone 3GS, the newest iPod touch, the third gen iPod touch, and the iPad all running iOS 4.0 or higher. Since the latter two devices do not feature back and front-facing cameras they are restricted to only receiving video. And note that since the 3GS does not pack a front-facing camera it will only broadcast video from the back-facing camera.
I gave the app a test drive and it worked flawlessly…over WiFi, that is. With that stable connection I was able to successfully connect to a desktop Skype client and video chatting worked as advertised. With the iPhone 4 you have the option to broadcast video from the front-facing camera and switch it to the back one on the fly, as well as options to mute the conversation and switch between portrait and landscape modes. When I disabled WiFi and attempted an iPhone 4-to-desktop video chat the video appeared noticeably more pixelated and laggy until it decided to cut out completely and drop the call. But that’s 3G for you; heck, at least it works.
The free Skype update is available to download now at the App Store. Apple might have had a leg up on the video conferencing competition with FaceTime since iPhone 4’s introduction, but with Mac and Windows support–plus 3G support–plus a giant user base in the millions–Skype is enabling the futuristic functionality for a significantly larger community of iOS users. Press release and (creepy) introductory demonstration video after the break.
Fring, a popular VoIP application in the Apple App Store, now allows its users to put their cameras to work by enabling video calls with other cell phone/computer users. But alas, the iPhone lacks a front-facing camera and so Fring is forced to limit the video calling to a one-way show. Fring developers are ready to incorporate two-way video conferencing once “a front camera is placed on these.” The one-way video calls work over Wi-Fi, between Fring-Fring and Fring-Skype callers. Remember, though, you must have the iPhone 3GS in order for the video calling to work. (I mistakingly tested it out on iPhone 3G and was quickly disappointed.) Anyway, this is cool stuff. Granted, video conferencing capability has been around for some time with Nokia devices, but now it’ll start hitting the mainstream folk with iPhones and iPods touch.
Be sure to look after the break to find a Fring commercial that shows all this in action.