Skype says iPhone 3G VoIP app coming soon

Updated Feb. 4, 12:07 p.m. ET to reflect comments from Skype.

Now that Apple has lifted restrictions on iPhone VoIP apps that run over AT&T's 3G network, folks have been wondering when they will see a 3G VoIP app from Skype. Skype gave the answer on its blog yesterday, saying a 3G VoIP app will become available "soon."

The company said it has been holding back its 3G VoIP app in order to improve audio quality prior to releasing the new version of the app. Last week, Apple amended its developer agreements to enable VoIP apps for the iPhone 3G in the Apps Store. Previously users could only use VoIP applications over WiFi. VoIP providers fring and iCall announced last week that their apps for the iPhone 3G are ready to run in 3G mode on AT&T's 3G network.

In a video posted on Skype's blog, David Ponsford, the lead on Skype's development team for the iPhone, said this enhanced version will include wideband audio along with a call-quality indicator that moves form red to yellow to green depending on coverage.

Skype's news, however, prompted commenters to ask why Skype won't just release its current version and issue an update later. Skype had indicated back in December its 3G VoIP app was ready but couldn't be offered because of Apple's restrictions.

According to a Skype spokesperson, the company wanted to wait so it could offer the call quality meter, which was characterized as "something we already know is needed when using the iPhone on 3G." In addition, the higher quality audio capability will help with voice quality in low-bandwidth situations. "Skype just doesn't believe in offering a 3G VoIP calling application without these two really important feature included in it," the spokesperson said.

Apple's new iPad will incorporate everything necessary for initiating VoIP calls--ranging from the built-in mic and speaker to wireless connectivity and the enabling iPhone OS. Skype said it would announce its VoIP plans for the iPad later.

For more:
- see Skype's blog post

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