Skype has launched a new version of its client for Apple's iPhone that can make calls to other Skype users over a 3G network, it said on Sunday. Skype-to-Skype calls over Wi-Fi will remain free, but Skype will begin charging for Skype-to-Skype calls over 3G after the end of 2010, the company said. It has not yet decided how to charge for the calls, it said.
Users may have to pay an additional charge to their mobile operator for the 3G data traffic, according to Skype. They will also have to make sure that their data plan's terms and conditions allow IP telephony. Today, some mobile operators allow IP telephony, some don't and some charge an extra fee.
With the new Skype software, owners of the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and second- or third-generation iPod touch can make calls using Skype. The iPod touch requires a compatible headset with a microphone to be able to make phone calls, and since it lacks 3G, it can only make calls over Wi-Fi.
Other improvements in the new software for iPhone include improved sound quality, so users can expect "CD quality sound" for Skype-to-Skype calls on their iPhone 3GS or second and third generation iPod touch, according to Skype. The iPhone client also has a call quality indicator, which will help customers choose the best moment to call, and improved startup time, Skype said.
Owners of Symbian-based smartphones can already make phone calls over 3G, and Skype is also working on a version of its client for smartphones based on Android, but isn't ready to say when it will ship, according to a spokesman.