Skype finally put to rest a year-long battle between itself, Apple and AT&T, bringing voice calls to the iPhone over AT&T's 3G network. What had previously been a funky alternative for making cheap international and long-distance calls - when connected to a wifi network - has become a viable alternative to your cellular service.In May, voice-over-IP calling and chatting service
This week, Skype has announced updates to its iPhone app to bring it fully up to speed in terms of multitasking, background operation and voice quality.
Previously, Skype was really useful only as a way to save on some minutes if you were running low, to make long-distance international phone calls on the cheap or to make phone calls in remote areas where wifi was available but cell phone service was not. (And yes, those places still exist, all over the country.) Now, with it's latest update for Apple's iOS 4, Skype can run in the background when other apps are running and even when the phone is locked. This means that it can sit in the background, silently waiting for calls or chat messages to come in and interrupt whatever it is your doing to alert you.
In essence, Skype has become a fully functional telephone app. Having to keep the app open and the phone unlocked to listen for incoming phone calls previously made using Skype as your primary phone unreasonable. This update changes all of that. It acts just as your other calls, allowing you to switch back and forth from the phone call to other tasks, like checking emails or maps or whatever else you want.
In addition to multitasking and background operation, the new version takes full advantage of the iPhone 4's "Retina Display" and the high quality sound available over 3G. Skype also announced that, with this update, it "no longer [has] plans to charge a supplement to make calls over 3G".
The only thing you have to worry about now, of course, is your data limit.