Skype is an instant messaging, voice, and video calling client available for various platforms, including Google Android. The Android app has gone through several updates over the past year, which introduced additional features, such as sending files and video calling. For this article I reviewed Skype version 188.8.131.52 on a tablet running Android Honeycomb 3.1.
The initial start screen is clean and simple. You can access your contacts, recent conversations, you can call phones, and view or edit your own profile. Via the top right corner you can sign out or change your online status (green). Via the options button (red) you can launch the menu, which includes access to your Skype settings (blue). Note that the option menu changes, depending on what part of Skype you are viewing.
The screenshot below highlights the different status options.
Your personal profile provides an account overview, including Skype credit and status of your Skype number and call forwarding. When you switch to the profile tab, you can change your personal profile information.
Per default, contacts will show your online friends. Clicking the respective button in the top left (red), you can switch to viewing all contacts, only Skype contacts, number, favorites, or blocked contacts. The options menu allows you to add contacts, save a number, search your address book, or sort your contacts by name.
Below is an overview of your contact display options.
When clicking on a friend, you will see a list of possible actions, including voice call, video call, send IM, send file, or SMS. You can also view their profile. Via the options menu you can rename the respective contact, add them to your favorites, block, or remove them.
When you open an IM conversation (click Send IM), you will see the most recent messages. You can make Skype load more messages from the history by dragging the conversation to the bottom. When clicking the chat icon in the bottom left (red), you can select whether to send your message through IM or SMS. Note that charges for text messages apply.
You can manage a conversation via the options menu, for example call the contact, add others to the conversation, send a file, or close the chat.
This is the most recently added feature for the Skype Android app. As of version 2.6, you can send files to your contacts. When you click the respective options buttons, a menu will launch from which you can select a source, typically including the gallery, as well as document and file managers installed on your system. Unfortunately, this does not include your Dropbox account, meaning you have to download any files you want to share via Skype.
As of version 2.5, Skype for Android features video calling, although not on all devices. Unfortunately, the Android Market no longer contains a full list of supported devices. If you run Android 2.2+ on a supported device, however, you can enable video calling and control further details in the settings menu.
I recently wrote a detailed article on how to enable and use the Skype video calling feature: How To Make Skype Video Calls On Your Android Honeycomb Tablet. Briefly, video calls must be enabled via the settings menu, video can then be turned on or off during a call, and on Skype 2.3+ you can switch back and forth between front and rear camera.
Just like its desktop counterpart, you can use the Skype Android app to call phones or send text messages. Personally, I find this feature much more convenient using the mobile app. The book icon with the # sign in the top right corner is your phone book. You can manually add contacts with the options menu, which is shown at the bottom in the screenshot below.
This was Skype for Android in a nutshell. Basically, it offers all essential functions also available in the desktop application, with clean and simple menus as a bonus. Overall, it may actually be a little easier to use, since the touch navigation forced developers to make the app a lot more intuitive. And by the way, you can have Skype delivered directly to your mobile phone via SMS from the Skype website.
How do you like the mobile edition of Skype and does it look much different on an Android phone? What features from the desktop app do you miss or what other features would you like to see? Please share in the comments!