The Skype app for Apple's iOS adds a second line to an iPhone or turns an iPad or iPod touch into a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone. It is a free download from the App Store.
Computer-to-computer calls are free; Skype Credit or a monthly subscription plan must be purchased to make calls to landlines and cell phones. Skype Credit is used for calling and extras including text messaging and voicemail. Subscription plans start at $2.95/month for unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada.
Skype has a simplistic interface. Navigation is split into four sections (shown left to right below): Contacts, Chats, Calls, and Profile.
The Contacts section lists exactly what the name implies -- contacts. They are sorted into groups, making them easy to find.
The Chat section shows recent text conversations. Skype can send text messages and instant messages.
The Calls section has a familiar-looking keypad. A subscription plan or Skype Credit is required to call landlines or cell phones.
Last in our exciting tour, the profile page; personal options can be changed with minimal hassle.
Overall the Skype app has no hoops in its interface and is easy to navigate. The simplicity is appreciated.
Making and Receiving Calls
UPDATE: Skype 2.0 for iPhone now supports calling over 3G. I tested this feature in the Philadelphia metropolitan area on an iPhone 3G and it worked flawlessly; the call quality was nearly as clear as it was over standard Wi-Fi. However, the call quality will vary depending on the strength of the cellular signal.
Note that Skype Credit is required to make calls to mobile phones and landlines. Skype-to-Skype calling over 3G will be free until the end of 2010; pricing information has not been released yet. Skype-to-Skype calling over Wi-Fi will remain free.
Making calls is straightforward -- enter the number and touch Call. Calling features are basic; Skype does not support user-initiated conferencing or call waiting. This service is not robust enough for businesses but is sufficient for personal use.
Call quality was excellent. I also had no problems connecting and talking to people halfway around the world. While previous versions of Skype for iPhone limited you use of Wi-Fi connections, the latest Skype for iOS app allows you to use your AT&T 3G connection for making Skype calls.
Unfortunately, regardless of whether you're on a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, the Skype app must be open to receive calls. As it stands, it is only practical to use the Skype app to make calls; it does not effectively add a second line to an iPhone; call forwarding helps alleviate this limitation but is not free.
The Skype app works well for personal use. The app is easy to navigate and making calls is simple. Call quality and connectivity were excellent.
For business use I suggest Toktumi's Line2 app, which has more robust calling features including user-initiated conferencing. Overall I have no problem recommending the Skype app and service for personal use.