Skype at long last released an updated version of its iPhone app that is able to make calls over 3G -- but its days as a free service are numbered.
Skype 2.0 for iPhone (iTunes, free) is able to make Skype-to-Skype calls over 3G "for free until the end of 2010, after which there will be a small monthly fee."
That last bit is a total shock to fans of the VOIP service that were anxiously waiting for the iPhone app to work over 3G.
The switchover date to paid 3G access was originally slated to be September 1, 2010 but an influx of irate reviews forced the company to extend the deadline to sometime after January 1, 2011.
To make matters worse Skype 2 for iPhone doesn't include push notifications, a long-requested feature that is practically essential on the iPhone. Its (current) lack of multitasking means you need to keep the app running to receive a call.
If it's any consolation, Skype for Android is even goofier. It only works on 3G (seriously, it won't launch on Wi-Fi) and only works on Verizon devices. To make matters worse domestic Skype calls are carried over the Verizon network and are billed like a normal mobile phone call.
My theory: Skype could only do something this stupid because it's planning to launch video calls on the next-gen iPhone 4G/HD/whatever. No established software company is insane enough to publicly commit suicide like this, without some serious positive news -- say next week. Are they?
P.S. Would it have killed them to make Skype 2 a universal app so that it runs in native resolution on the iPad? Geez.
Update: Terry from Demco, developer of Incoming for Skype, writes about a potential way around the Skype subscription fee:
There is another way to get Skype working over 3G without using the official app using an app called Incoming for Skype. You still need to use your skype-out account, but you'll never need to pay for any subscription service that Skype wants to implement for calling over 3G. Incoming for Skype will convert your outgoing calls to local incoming calls. If you have a cell phone plan with unlimited incoming calls, you can call anywhere in the world for free and you don't even have to worry about paying daytime minutes.