Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Skype remembers your password again, transfers files, movies, pictures, and still makes annoying noises
If you make VoIP calls through standard SIP servers you have plenty of Android apps to choose from, but for Skype you're stuck with the official client.
And that client sucks.
Noise, ads, death of tabs
There's no way to switch off the dialpad tones (loud annoying beeps), and if you're just connecting for a quiet text chat Skype insists on sounding its startup and shutdown sounds at deafening volume unless you downgrade to a very old version.
The old Skype lets you set your own call ringtone, the new Skype only plays the default Skype tone. Another benefit of vintage Skype is its tabbed interface, which is way better than the new layout that requires detours through the start screen.
One more reason to be old skool: the ancient versions are free of ads. The ads don't matter much yet because they only invade your phone if you're in the USA, UK, or Germany, but other countries will get them later. You won't see the ads if you have Skype credit or any other paid service active, so keeping a balance of a few pennies may be worth the trouble even if you only use Skypes free features. And there's no reason to pay for Skype, because there are plenty of SIP VoIP operators that offer better rates and better sound quality than the overpriced SkypeOut.
If you keep the old tabbed version you won't get video calls. Not a big deal, because video calling gets old real quick unless you're hooked on cyber sex. Unfortunately you'll also miss out on the new features in the latest update: file transfers. Not just pictures and movies, but any file you want. Of course there's email, but sending pictures straight from a chat screen is a nice touch.
The old Skype remembered your password. Later versions forgot and made you retype your password everytime you'd log in. But the latest edition remembers your password again.
Sometime during the series of updates the background service that persisted after closing the app went away too. If you go to the settings and disable the Skype status notification the background proces called "MainService" won't even show up in your list of running services, but then your notification bar won't tell you if you're signed in or not.
After a bad start and slipping downhill Skype for Android took a small step up from downright horrible to simply mediocre. It's not enough to make me ditch the old ad-free tabbed version yet, but future versions might change that.
I wonder what's gonna happen first: Skype cleaning up their act or someone coding an alternative Skype client or a real Skype plugin for CSipSimple? Maybe Skype will return to Nimbuzz and fring someday? This would help fight the chat and VoIP fragmentation that's pushing us back to the dark ages.
• Skype (Android Market)
• Skype 184.108.40.2063 (Google) (last tabbed ad-free version)