Jan 10th, 2009

Skype has released a Lite version of their software for the Android Market that is now available for download. For those not familiar with Skype, it is software that uses your internet connection to make phone calls, messaging, file transfers and video conferencing. In 2005, Skype had nearly 75 million user accounts, was purchased by EBay and has since increased to an estimated 370 million users.

While Skype is most commonly known and used as personal computer software, it is quickly becoming a mobile staple as it works for over 100 Java enabled phones. Much to the dismay of mobile carriers of course, as users are avoiding using their minutes by taking advantage of WiFi and 3G Data Connections for voice conversations.

Obviously, Skype Lite for Android doesn’t have all the features that full blown Skype does, but here is what it does include according to the Skype Lite for Android Press Release:

  • Make Skype-to-Skype calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world
  • Send/receive instant messages to/from individuals or groups
  • Make Skype calls at low rates to people on landline or mobile phones
  • Receive calls to your online personal phone number on Skype
  • See when your Skype contacts are online/available to chat

Want to see Skype Lite for Android in action? Wish granted:

You do however need a calling and data plan in order to use Skype Lite for Android as its required to sign into your account, keep track of your status, send/receive calls and whatnot. Interestingly enough, even when you make Skype to Skype calls you are utilizing your voice connection and will use your mobile minutes from whatever service provider you have.

Correct me if the above is wrong but according to the press release, this seems to be the case. Making an International Call? Then Skype makes a lot of sense. And it appears that is what is recommended:

“…it’s really easy to use your phone’s minutes to call Skype contacts and make SkypeOut calls internationally for cheap using your Skype credit. (But do be aware–receiving Skype calls on a Skype Lite client uses your Skype credit, but you can set the client not to receive any calls if you want.)”

So if there is a Skype Lite now… will there ever be a Skype Full? Are they waiting until they can sell it? Are they just beta testing the Lite version before they add more features to a Full Version?

When video conferencing is a key feature of desktop Skype and the only Android phone – the T-Mobile G1 – doesn’t have a video camera… let alone a front facing one… perhaps Skype is just easing into the whole thing. Any way you look at it, Skype Lite is a nice addition to the Android Market.