Video Calling over 3G via Skype 3.0 for iOS
The iPhone finally has an alternative to FaceTime for video calling and it works over AT&T’s 3G network. That’s right—Skype 3.0 is finally out after much speculation. Of course, it uses approximately three megabytes of data a minute and could quite easily destroy your phone bill if you’re not careful.
Skype 3.0 supports video calling on the iPhone 4, 3GS and iPod touch 4. Those with the iPod touch 3 and the iPad can receive video but not send it. (Skype for iPhone is free and video calling requires iOS 4.) While I’m not crazy about the idea of awkwardly pointing the back of the iPhone 3GS at myself for a video call—“Can you see me yet?”—that Skype was kind enough to support two-way video calling with such a popular model adds a star next to it in my book.
And yes, you can video call Skype users on computers through the app.
However, there is the possibility that AT&T could try to get Apple to pull the plug because of bandwidth concerns. (Like people aren’t already paying out the nose for mobile Internet.) “We’ve not checked with AT&T. We don’t think it’s our position to check in with carriers,” says Neil Stevens, Skype’s VP and GM for consumer products. Hmm…
Given the way the whole net neutrality battle is looking to shake out for mobile Internet providers, AT&T might even get the legal authority to block specific bandwidth intensive services itself outright. Keep your fingers crossed. Eventually, people will be able to enjoy cheap, unlimited wireless data plans. Hopefully I will not have died of old age at that point.
So what are you waiting for? Go download Skype 3.0 from iTunes or tap the iTunes icon on your iOS device and go ahead with the update. It’s free after all. Since video calling through Wi-Fi is also an available option in Skype 3.0, you can rest easy that your data allotment won’t disappear within an hour or two. Just be careful!
Does Apple’s FaceTime have some real competition now? Could other video calling services follow suite? Is video calling over 3G simply too bandwidth intensive to be practical given the limitations of current data plans? Let me know what you think in the comments.skype, Facetime, Apple iPhone 3GS, 3G, Wi-Fi