Skype has launched a new app for iPad and iPhone that lets you tap into commercial Wi-Fi hotspots without having to pay full daily or hourly fees. Instead, the app drains your Skype credit account by the minute, which is ideal if you just need to make a quick VoIP call. Rates are in the neighbourhood of $0.06/minute, with access available at over 1 million hotspots worldwide hosted by Boingo, Fon, Vex, Tomizone, and plenty of others.
Skype’s core business is video and voice chat over data connections, and over the last little while they’ve been shifting from desktop to mobile. Although Skype often undercuts the prices of wireless service providers, many carriers like Telus and Verizon have taken to supporting the service in their phones with stuff like direct billing of Skype credit to your monthly bill. Data bandwidth and hardware limitations make mobile video calling a bit impractical for now, but for voice calls, Skype’s proven to be a great alternative for folks wanting to save on long-distance calls.
Skype WiFi is a logical extension of their old laptop app called Access, which did basically the same thing. I could definitely see myself using this app when traveling, since roaming fees in Canada are particularly harsh. Most of the time I just want to check in to Foursquare so the folks back home know that I’ve landed safe and sound, but on a BlackBerry, the second you turn on data the e-mails come flooding in – maybe this will be a more viable alternative.
Here’s an App Store link, and we’ll definitely keep our eye open for an Android version.