Skype – How it changed everything, and mobile video calling

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

When I come to think of it, Skype has become an indispensable tool for me recently. I mostly use it to keep in close contact with someone very special to me, and the fact that it’s free to talk to someone in another country for hours every day in perfect sound quality is amazing to me still. I guess it’s only when you really find a practical application for something like this that it really makes you realise how truly useful it is.

Imagine a world without services such as Skype now. Phone bills would be a killer, especially from mobiles. Even text messages to international numbers are ridiculously expensive considering how simple it must be for carriers to transmit that data by this point in time. I know first hand how much international text messages drain your phone credit. You have to strike a balance between wanting to communicate with the person in question and how much you’re willing to give to your rip-off phone network.

Until recently I think I was paying around 20p per message. I then looked at Skype’s SMS charges and found that they only charge 6p per message internationally. I then decided I would use Skype credit for texting whenever I can avoid using my phone. The coolest thing about this service is that you can even validate your phone number with Skype. This allows you to send texts from any Skype app, desktop or mobile and they appear to the person you’re sending them to as just a regular text message from your number.

This is the only Skype premium feature I make use of currently but it’s all I really need right now. They offer a vast selection of cost saving services and while it can appear confusing upon first glance, I think most internet users, especially those comfortable with VOIP should be able to make the most of it with relative ease.

Before I wrote this post, my original plan was to just talk about the new mobile video for iPhone and iPod Touch. It’s something I was hoping they were going to add as soon as I saw Apple unveil FaceTime on iPhone 4 with the front facing camera. It was an obvious next step for mobile Skype that I’m glad we now have.

While I’m not the most comfortable person appearing on video, I can say that the technology itself seems to work brilliantly. The quality was very smooth from what I could tell from my end when I’ve had trouble recently with my MacBook camera.

Aside from the recent major outage, Skype is always a fantastic tool for communication and I look forward to seeing them continue to innovate in both free and paid services. It would be a sad day if we ever lose the ability to call anyone, anywhere for free so I hope we never have to now.