Skype: a review
I took a while to adopt Skype. But now that I have the business need to use it, I love it, partly because of the business need, but mostly because the product has evolved.
I wasn’t happy when Skype tied me to my PC. That’s not how people make/take or want to make/take calls. They want to make calls with the freedom with which mobile technology has provided them. And even if I’m sitting on my sofa talking to someone, I don’t want the hassle of an accompanying laptop or the inability to move around if I so choose.
I dabbled with Skype when we lived in the US, but audio only, and the above constraints meant that it was a less-than-pleasing experience.
But now: I love Skype. I use it for both personal and work purposes, and I would be annoyed if it was taken from me. I started using it again when I downloaded the Skype iPhone app. It only works over wireless, and I started using it to call the US of an evening—during the US working day—while within the range of my home wireless network. It allows me to call people directly from my iPhone contact list, and although not integrated into the phone functionality of the iPhone, it works just as well from the app.
I was recently sent an email confirming my Skype to Go number. This is an outer-London number (based on the STD code) that I can dial from my mobile phone (now in my contacts), after which it invites me to enter the number I want to dial, complete with country code (“followed by the pound, or hash key”). This new-found freedom means I can dial whoever I want from wherever I want (normal mobile reception allowing) for Skype rates.
To use this carefree, I use their auto-top-up feature which, similar to Oyster, tops my account up with a fixed amount whenever it falls below £5 of credit, emailing me a receipt in the process. Beautiful. Earlier today, I called a hotel in Luxembourg without even thinking about how much the call was costing me. (I just looked it up: 1.2p per minute plus the cost of my London call (which was included in my “free” mobile minutes anyway.))
The only pain with the Skype to Go approach is that I have to write down or remember the number I want to call before calling Skype to Go. But even this obstacle can be overcome through the ability to add speed-dial numbers to my Skype to Go number.
And finally, here’s the icing on the cake. I tried calling my Skype to Go number from a landline today, to see whether it instead routed the call to my mobile. It doesn’t. But it did ask me to authenticate myself, after which I was able to make whatever calls I wanted. From the landline. Using my Skype credit.
All in all, I’m a convert. I love it.
I’d like it if their next step was to enable cheap calls from your mobile to international numbers when abroad. And there should be a way, in my opinion, of using my Wii’s internet connection to use Skype. Now that would be fun. Just sit on the sofa and you can talk to whomever you choose, and their voice comes out of the TV. FTW.