Stuttgart (Germany) – Shape Services has announced a basic feature set of Skype for Apple's iPhone.
"Skype on the iPhone is a Reality" reads the headline of a press release that found its way to our Email inbox today and given the fact that this writer just canceled his provider contract with AT&T and since then has been using the iPhone as a portable Wi-Fi device and as an overpriced iPod, there was an immediate interest in testing this application.
This "IM+ for Skype beta" service is, as the name indicates, not provided by Skype itself, but by Shape Services, a Stuttgart-based third party developer. Skype is accessed through the Safari web browser and a webpage in which the user has to log in with his user name and password and provide a call back phone number.
So, does it work? Well, sorta.
The good news is that text chats work well, if the user is not logged on to Skype through another device. Answers from chat partners arrive with a noticeable delay of about 10 to 20 seconds. The IM+ for Skype also shows that the on-screen keyboard in the iPhone is not really convenient enough to make it a device you want to use for extensive chats. But it is a decent tool for brief communications.
The voice portion of the application is another story. We do not subscribe to any of Skype's premium plans and were not able to find out if this is a requirement for Shape's application. Without such a plan, it was possible to establish voice connections to other Skype users for a few seconds, which however did not permit any voice communication. These calls were automatically canceled, typically within 10 seconds.
We contacted Shape Services to get more information about the application but have not received a reply yet.