Mar, 31 2009

When Skype Lite launched on the Android Market back in January, it came as a mixed blessing. While it was a great solution for making international calls with your G1, it cannot use WiFi and forces you to use your minutes/data plan quota, essentially double charging you since you’ve got to pay for the Skype fees as well. But what about folks who want to make WiFi VoIP calls?

A clever reader (thanks Nikotttin!) pointed us to an application called Sipdroid. While it started as an open source project, it since has moved to closed development in the Alpha Stage, leaving non-sherlockes hopeless. But a little digging reveals a lot, for example this Sipdroid demo on YouTube published last week:

As you can clearly see, the And Dev Phone 1 (or rooted G1) he is working on is utlizing the Internet connection from the computer in the background to call the second phone he is holding, all with the Sipdroid application. Furthermore, comments on the YouTube video indicate that Sipdroid should be hitting Android Market by the end of May at the latest!

Of course there ARE still a bunch of question marks. First off is the fact that this morning, we learned Google banned tethering apps from the market. And while a VoIP app using WiFi isn’t related to tethering it DOES have something in common: the potential to piss off carriers. Using a VoIP application over WiFi means less mobile minutes used by customers which means less income from the carriers.

It still remains to be seen whether Google will ban apps only on certain carriers or if there will be carrier targeting or what, but VoIP apps like Sipdroid could certainly fall victim to the priorities of carriers. Seeing as how Android follows the “open” mantra, you would HOPE this would find a home on the market, especially since you can now get Skype over WiFi on the iPhone – a traditionally more closed platform.

Of course Skype could surprise us and launch a full version of Skype on the Android Market well before Sipdroid releases and we wouldn’t complain. We just wanted you know that options are on the way.

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