Skype Mobile coming to Verizon's BlackBerry, Android phones

A partnership with Skype and Verizon will put a new Skype Mobile app on select Android and BlackBerry phones in Verizon's service.

Skype Mobile
Skype Mobile will arrive on select Android and BlackBerry phones this Thursday. Skype

Back in February, we read between the lines of a joint Skype and Verizon announcement to deduce that a much-coveted Skype app for BlackBerry was in the works. On Tuesday at CTIA 2010, the two companies took the podium again with a hard release date to share. Luckily, some Blackberry--and Android users--will only have to wait until Thursday to get the new Skype Mobile on their smartphones.

We say "some" phone owners and not "all" because at launch, Skype Mobile will only be available for nine handsets on Verizon's network: the BlackBerry Storm series, Curve series, and Tour; and the Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris, and Morotola Devour, (which also launches Thursday in Verizon stores.) Skype and Verizon anticipated expanding the app to other phone models and platforms in the future.

We got a chance to demo Skype Mobile after the press conference. As far as features go, it's slimmer than Skype on other mobile platforms, sticking to the bare basics of calling and instant messaging. One unique implementation lets you import contacts from the phone's native address book, a plus. Other than that, the app shows your Skype Mobile history and can update the status and mood you broadcast to others. However, you'll be disappointed if you look for goodies like file transferring, SMS, and Skype voice mail support at this stage.

Though Skype Mobile's feature set may not wow us, the convenience of using Verizon's voice network to make calls should in theory keep call quality stable as long as there's reception. Contrast this with having to hold out until you're in 3G or Wi-Fi range and the advantage of partnering with a carrier becomes clearer. In addition, Skype Mobile will run persistently in the background so you can opt to maintain a constant Skype presence for other users to reach you. We would have liked to have seen a setup where users could make Skype calls from the native address book, akin to using Google Voice on Android phones.

Skype Mobile will be free on Android and BlackBerry phones, with free Skype-to-Skype calls that won't cost extra or drain your minutes. You can still purchase Skype credit for international calls to landlines and cell phones. BlackBerry users on supported Verizon handsets should see Skype Mobile pushed to their Downloads folder, but you can alternatively download the app from http://skype.com/go/mobile or text Skype (2255). Android users can find Skype Mobile in the Android Market on Thursday.

We didn't get a chance to test out Skype's voice features apart from the odd test call, so keep your eyes peeled for our take on calling over Verizon's service, and a hands-on video tour of Skype Mobile's interface and features.

Related stories: No more Skype for Windows and Java phones?
Skype lands in Nokia's Ovi Store

 

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