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Skype Beta on Windows Phone 7

Like many people, I was glad to hear in February that there was finally a WP7 app for Skype (beta version). Although I don't personally have much need to use Skype, I appreciate just how powerful it can be for both cheap international calls and video calling.

I downloaded the Skype Beta from the link provided on their blog and gave it a run on my HTC Mozart. It looked ok, I could certainly see the few contacts I had on Skype, but I didn't really give it a second thought. That was until I was in Thailand recently and again thought how great cheap (free) video calling would be for communicating with friends and family while on vacation (or living as an expat). My 4-year old son is pretty good on the phone, but I knew that if he could see daddy while talking, the conversation would be far more free-flowing.

First-things-first, most of you will know that there are no Windows Phones out there with front facing cameras, so it's a bit of guesswork figuring out if your face is actually in the frame when placing a video call. I managed to get it working ok, but eventually I just connected my laptop to the phone's Wi-Fi and used a regular webcam, which made it a whole lot easier. Perhaps the fatal flaw with the current Beta version is that it does not work in the background, so even if you have opened the app and signed in as soon as you go back to the start screen or open another app, it is game over.

Once I got home I was testing the app a little further and I was even more horrified. I started the Skype app on my Nokia Lumia 800 and logged in, making sure it had time to get all the latest info before pressing the Windows key to go back to the start screen. I then Skype called myself from my old HTC Mozart. As expected the Lumia 800 did nothing, even the Skype page on the Windows Phone Marketplace makes it clear that the app doesn't run in the background. What annoyed me the most was that my iPad2, which was being used by my wife to watch some movie trailers on YouTube, got the call!

Where is the sense in all this? Why does Skype, a company bought by Microsoft in 2011 for a bucket of cash (US$8.5 Billion), take so long to deliver what is effectively a test app for Windows Phone? I mean, how serious is their commitment to Windows Phone? Do they expect you to have the app open waiting for a call? Maybe the execs at MS and Skype thought it quite reasonable to expect users to call, text or tweet each other to let them know to open the app. Maybe a text along the lines of "Hi honey, about to Skype you to remember to buy milk, can you please start the Skype app".

By the way, I love my Windows Phone and would dearly love to see the whole ecosystem evolve. It offers so much already built-in (baked-in) in terms of email, calendar and social networking that there's not a lot more I could want. One of my favourite things (and certainly my best argument when chatting at work with the iPhone/Android mob) is that I have downloaded hardly any apps because the OS provides so much already. Skype is currently not part of that great experience and it needs to be – really, really soon – if Windows Phone is to have a chance. Skype, if you need a hand let me know (jobs at ezidata.com.au) – I would be only too happy to assist!

Posted: Apr 16 2012, 07:01 by CameronM | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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Filed under: Windows Phone 7 | WP7