Skype - free IM & video calls
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The Android version of Skype allows you to make free or cheap voice and video calls on your phone.

What's New in Skype for Android

• Media bar: Use the new toolbar to share photos, files and more.

• You can share your location: Send a map with your location in a Skype chat.

• A new Launcher badge: View the number of unread conversations on the Skype icon in the launcher, but this feature is only available for Samsung, HTC and Sony phones.

Features

This mobile version of the popular VOIP app uses a WiFi or 3G connection (WiFi only in the US) to connect you to friends and family via Skype. Besides calling, you can use the text chat feature to exchange instant messages with other Skype users.

Just like the desktop version, Skype for Android is very simple to set up and use. Once you've registered or signed in, you'll be given a virtual tour explaining exactly what you can do with the app. When getting started, you can choose to sync contacts. Contacts can be grouped, which makes things much easier if you have lots of friends.

There are still some features of the desktop version of Skype that are lacking from the app, such as group calls.

Usability

Skype's user interface is very clear and straightforward. There are icons at the bottom of the screen for calling and chatting, and a context menu for adding people or numbers. The main window in Skype 4 for Android is dedicated to contacts, allowing you to display all Skype contacts, favorite contacts and your recent activity. You can switch between these lists by swiping left or right across the screen.

Skype for Android includes video calling, allowing you to chat face-to-face with your buddies, even if they are using another platform. The app includes SMS support, allowing you to send text messages to mobile phones through it.

The interface of the tablet version of Skype for Android is really attractive and offers you easy access to all your contacts. The video chat window is excellent. It lets you display the sidebar during a call, so you can access other functions while you talk on video.

A problem with Skype on the Android is that it can't be closed very easily because there is no Quit option. Instead, you have to kill the app using an external task manager. The fact that it stays running is especially annoying given the fact that the app zaps your battery very quickly.

Recent versions of Skype for Android have brought enhancements designed to improve battery usage of the application. According to the developer these 'aggressive battery savings' will allow users to leave Skype running without any noticeable effect on battery life.

Our tests seem to back up this claim. Skype 4.5 was commanding an average 3% of our total battery consumption, whereas this dropped to an average of 1.7% of the overall consumption after the update to 4.7. Benchmarking was done using GSam Battery Monitor on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Conclusion

Skype for Android is very useful and offers an easy way to make cheap calls. However, it's still generally not as cheap as some other VOIP services.

Notes

Clicking the download button will take you to the Google Play Store, where you can download this app.