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Skype for Android review: Fast and reliable VoIP, video, and messaging

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Tap the avatar at the top of the screen to jump to your profile, where you can see your vital information (including Skype credits) and change your mood message (Skype's version of a status update). Here, you can also mark yourself as Available or Invisible.

Meanwhile, the tablet-optimized version of Skype splits the functions up similarly, but takes advantage of the larger screen real estate with a dual-panel interface. Overall, the Skype app is bright and minimal, and its easy enough to zip around its primary functions.

What's great about the Skype mobile app is that it lets you place calls just as easily as on the desktop. From the main screen, you can hit the call button and dial a number or from a conversation, all you have to do is hit either the phone or video button to place a call. Within a call, you can easily toggle video on and off with a single tap. Also, it's worth noting that you can have two-way voice calls with only one person transmitting video.

Improved video quality and easier access to chat conversations are among the changes in Skype 4.0. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

While engaged in a video call, you can easily mute or end a call, or jump to the recent messages that you've exchanged with that contact. What you can't do, though, is swap between front-facing and rear-facing cameras. Previously, you could do this with the touch of a button, but the feature seems to be missing from version 4.0. If a regular voice call comes in (from your cellular carrier) while you're on Skype, and you accept, your video call will automatically be placed on hold until you return, which is a nice touch.

In a previous review, I mentioned that that video quality on Skype was slightly pixelated and choppy. But with the updated app, that has completely changed. In version 4.0, video quality is clear and impressively smooth when on a strong Wi-Fi network. Also, the audio quality is just as crisp as before. While these qualities may change depending on the strength of your connection, it's still a noticeable upgrade over previous versions of the app.

Because Skype integrates with your Android address book, managing your contacts within the app is easy. You can sync Skype with all of your phone's contacts or simply add people manually.

My biggest issue with Skype is that it is still incapable of group video chats, which is a shame, since the feature is growing in popularity. With Google+ and its group-video Hangouts steadily improving, I would hope that Skype's developers are hard at work trying to perfect the feature for their product.

Skype for Android has come a long way from its early days as a clunky app that supported very few devices. Now, it's got a sleek design, fantastic audio quality, and impressive video quality. What's more, it's proven to be a great option for sending instant messages and SMS texts as well. With its reliable and stable performance, I'd say that Skype is a great option as not only a messaging app, but also a VoIP and video caller, provided, of course, your friends are on the platform, too.

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