Skype For iPhone Now Multitasks - InformationWeek
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Eric Zeman
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Skype For iPhone Now Multitasks

Skype has updated its application for devices running iOS4. Users can now leave Skype running in the background and take calls when doing other tasks.

Skype for iPhone has had an interesting run. At first it only worked over Wi-Fi. Then, after both Apple and AT&T allowed VoIP calls to pass over 3G networks, Skype waited months to update to allow for that function. Now that Apple's iOS4 allows for background processes, many have been waiting for Skype to update once again. It finally happened.

Skype for iOS4 devices (iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS) now supports multitasking. Why is this one new feature such a big deal?

Without multitasking support, Skype could only run in the foreground. If you wanted to make Skype calls or chat via Skype IM, you had to have the app open and running. If you close the app, it signed you out of Skype and you were no longer able to take calls or IMs. That seriously crippled the usefulness of the app, especially for Skype addicts.

According to Skype, the application can run in the background, leaving users signed in. This means they can take calls and receive IMs even when doing other things with their phone. Skype says that users can take a Skype call, and switch out of the app to do something else, including check email or surf the Web. It will even work when the iPhone is locked.

Skype explained in a blog post, "At Skype, we believe that better call quality and better availability (which is achieved with an app capable of multitasking and/or making calls over 3G) lead to increased call frequency and longer calls."

In May, when Skype announced plans to support iOS4, it also announced that it would begin charging iPhone users to make VoIP calls over 3G. Skype users were not too happy with that decision. It has now dropped that idea.

Skype said, "We no longer have plans to charge a supplement to make calls over 3G. We’re delighted to make it easier for you to talk for even longer and do even more together using Skype."

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