August 21, 2012

Skype iPhone And iPad App Adds Photo Sharing

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

Skype has long been an easy and low cost way to stay connected with friends and colleagues far and wide from a computer or mobile device. And now the Skype app could be a way to share photos with iOS devices, a feature that has been present on the desktop version.

On Tuesday, the Voice Over IP (VoIP) service announced that it had updated its iOS app with the ability to send photos of any size using an iPhone or iPad to another Skype user. The new Photo Share feature in the Skype app has no limit size for files that can be sent and could potentially free users of expensive MMS charges, while also now enabling the app to be run on iOS mobile devices at all times. This app could also provide a way to bypass the file attachment limitations that are imposed by email providers.

But where do data plans fit in?

“I could see it working for unlimited data but what if you're on a tiered plan,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group told RedOrbit. “The cell phone company will be very pleased to bill you for the overage. I would avoid doing this on your cellular data plan due to performance and cost issues unless you are on Wi-Fi. But on a Skype call chatting about your trip over WI-Fi - which is how many of us keep our travel expenses down - this could be kind of handy. Skype is most popular over Wi-Fi and this service is far less risky if you are connected to a WI-Fi network.”

On its official blog Skype announced:

“Millions of people use Skype for iPhone or Skype for iPad each month. Today, with updates to both apps, we are introducing a frequently requested feature: Photo Sharing for iOS. In addition, we've made some improvements to the performance of the app, as we know many of you want to keep Skype running on your mobile devices all the time.”

This sounds good, but only if running the app and sharing photos doesn´t result in a dead iPhone or iPad.

A past frustration shared by many Skype app users was that it could quickly drain the battery, and apparently Skype´s developers have heard these complaints loud and clear and promised that this latest update will be “less battery hungry.” This new app has reportedly been updated so that the apps won´t drain a user´s battery even if left on. The app can remain open throughout the day for incoming calls and instant messages without running the phone down.

In addition users of the app will see other improvements, including fast loading. The blog post added that, “In addition, this latest release improves the app start and the contact list loads even faster, so you can do all the things you love to do with Skype more quickly.”

Sending of photos reportedly works much like sending of messages through Skype. If the contact is online, the message and photo will be sent — but if the contact is offline then the message remains pending and held until the person logs into Skype, at which time it will be delivered.

The new update is reportedly available for devices running iOS 4.3 or later, and include the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S, as well as any version of the Apple iPad.

Online news site The Inquirer reported that it had tested the app on Tuesday and found it “incredibly easy to use,” while also noting that it was “much quicker at sending images than Apple´s iMessage app.”

The new Skype version 4.1 is available for free download from the Apple App Store.

Skype is owned by Microsoft.