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Using Skype on Android

Installing and Using Skype for Android Phones and Tablets


Skype and Android logos
Front: Skype Technologies S.A / Microsoft Corporation Rear: Google Inc.

Skype is the most widely used VoIP application and apart from allowing free and cheap communication, it gives a number of features that favor fluid communication and collaboration. Android on the other side has rapidly become the favorite system for mobile phone and tablet users. So if you hold an Android device, there is a huge chance that you will want to install Skype on it. Here is what you want to know.

Why Use Skype on Android?

Mostly for the same reasons for which more than half a billion people have registered for it. Then, what’s more interesting with Android is that it gives you Skype functionality everywhere you are. What does Skype offer? First, you get to make and receive voice and video calls on your Android device. The video quality is unprecedented, provided you have what it takes (read below for that). You can also share multimedia files (video, pictures, documents etc.) with your Skype buddies, making it a nice collaboration tool. In a more basic level, you can chat and use the tool as an instant messenger (IM) on your mobile phone or tablet.

Skype also allows you to get an additional number to which people can call you. You also have free voicemail, and your Skype contacts are synchronized with your phone’s contacts.

Why Not Skype?

I have installed Skype on my Android phone and am using it, but I don’t think it is the best VoIP service out there for Android. Many people do that because there is one big reason for using Skype on Android, and that’s what has been driving people to installing Skype whether they like it or not. It’s that most people are on Skype and you have better chances of getting people to communicate on Skype than on any other VoIP service. Since communication, whether voice or video, within the network – meaning Skype-to-Skype calls – are free, you can finally communicate for free with more people around the world with Skype.

On the other hand, Skype does not offer the best VoIP rates on the market, although its rates are cheap compared to those of traditional PSTN or GSM calls. Also, the installation file is quite bulky with 12 MB. At the time I am writing this, around 6 % of users have given a 1 star rating for it, and its overall rating is 3.7 over 5 on the Android Market rating system.

What You Need For Skype on Android

At the time I am writing this, only few people qualify for full use of the Skype tool, especially for video communication. This is because Skype for Android is not as generic as its computer-based version, where you don’t need to care about which computer you are using. Here is what it takes to use Skype on Android:

  • A phone or device running Android. Two big limitations here: Firstly, the Android version needs to be 2.1 or higher. Secondly, Skype works fully (with video and all the advanced features) for a handful of models only, among which are Samsung Google Nexus S, HTC Desire S, Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro and HTC Thunderbolt. The list should normally keep lengthening, so check it on the Skype page at the Android Market. Your device needs to have at least 27 MB of free memory space and a processor that runs at a speed of at least 600 Mhz.
  • A 3G data plan or Wi-Fi connectivity. In short, you need an Internet connection with some decent bandwidth to be able to make and receive voice and video calls. Skype recommends an unlimited data plan because a lot of mega bytes will be used up with the calls and you might end up paying a lot for what goes above your flat rate. Wi-Fi is great, but only when you are in a hotspot. Else, it limits your mobility seriously. You won’t be able to use Skype using your GSM network through your SIM card as Skype uses a fully IP-based network.
  • A Skype account. This is the easiest thing to acquire. Just register for free with Skype and use your credentials to log in on your device once it is installed.
  • For full-fledged video calls, you need to use one among the handful of state-of-the-art and expensive Android devices and tablets, as specified on Skype’s website, fitted with a front and a rear camera.

Download and Installation

To install Skype on your Android device (phone or tablet), use your device’s browser to go to Skype’s product page on the Android Market. If you don’t know where that is, use the search tool. Look for the ‘INSTALL’ button and click on it. The application will download and install automatically on your Android machine, like most other Android apps. The settings are pretty much auto configured, such that when you launch the app for the first time, you only need to log in with your Skype credentials and you are good to communicate.

Using Skype on Android

Since you’ve come to this page looking to install Skype on Android, you most probably already have used Skype elsewhere, so you know how to use the app. Besides, the interface is like always, very user-friendly. But you might want to have a glimpse of what’s different with Skype on Android.

When you make a call to Dick, Tom or Harry on your phone (not on Skype), an option pops up asking whether you want to make a call with the generic dialer or with Skype. This is the result of the integration with the phone’s contact list. You can decide on a default action.

The main Skype interface has 4 main icons for a dialer, a history icon (recent), contacts and your profile. The settings you can tweak on the phone are the following: contact synchronization, go offline, sign in options, notification settings, status, call management, file sending, and IM management.

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