Good news for the growing number of people using Google Android-based phones and tablets: Skype today announced Skype for Android 2.0, which adds video calling capability.
With the new version, Android users can make free video calls over Skype to other Skype users on the iPhone, Mac, Windows PCs and even TVs equipped with a camera and Skype software.
Skype for Android with video works over both Wi-Fi and 3G data connections. This gives Skype a considerable advantage over Apple Facetime, which still only works if both parties are connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Will it work with your phone?
As a guide, Skype says handsets that will definitely work include HTC Desire S, Sony Ericsson Xperia neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia pro and the Google Nexus S.
However, people with older Android handsets sold last year or earlier may find Skype won't install on their phone, as it requires Android 2.1 or newer.
To check your Android version:
- Go to your phone's home screen
- Press the phone's menu button
- Select settings
- Scroll to the very bottom and select "about this phone"
- Look for the Android version section of the info.
Saving money with Skype for Android when travelling
In addition to video calls, Android users with Skype can also use Skype's other features -- free voice calls to other Skype users, or cheap voice calls to landlines.
Android users can also make use of our trick for avoiding global roaming fees diverting your Australian mobile number through Skype.
A lesser known feature of Skype is the ability to send SMSes to any mobile number worldwide, at rates dramatically less than the high prices charged by Australian telcos when people are travelling overseas and using their phone in global roaming mode.
SMS messages to Australian mobile numbers through Skype cost 11.8c to send, compared to the 50-75c charged by Australian telcos (and never included in cap plans).
New user interface
Skype has also redesigned the user interface for the software -- you can get a quick look in the video above.
There's a new main menu on the Skype app for Android where users can navigate easily through their contacts, access their Skype profile to change personal details or see the balance of their Skype Credit.
Skype is clearly trying to get into Facebook territory, though, with a "new mood message box at the top of the Skype app menu that makes it easier than ever for users to share how they are feeling, what they've seen, or what they're up to."