Mobile Nature :

Skype App Update 2.1.1 for iPhone

If you missed the update of iPhone iOS to version 4 and its highly anticipated ability to multitask then you also missed the sometime downside of this ability, rapid battery consumption.

With the new iOS 4 and their updated app I could continue a call or text chat and jump to another app without dropping the conversation. A nice push notification system would take you the other direction, alerting you of a message from the backgrounded Skype while in a foreground app.

Unfortunately, this first draft of the iOS 4 app has a dark side. I could literally watch the percentage meter for my battery run down in real time. No amount of fiddling and jiggering of settings would stop the inevitable dive to 0%, whatever Skype was doing in the background it required constant power.

At first I thought I was quite mad but checking with fellow iPhone users quickly confirmed my suspicions. Unlike my fellow iPhone 4 owners that happens to have a larger battery and better efficiencies in power consumption, my 3GS is from an earlier, simpler era of single task operations. The problem was so bad as to force me to stop using the app entirely.

But happy news, Skype has released update Version 2.1.1 and the power problem appears to be solved, although it is curious that they do not mention that in the upgrade notes. But they do mention that you can now disable IM alerts. This was an odd omission in the earlier version, it is an iOS interface standard to allow control of an app’s push alerts.

Other small fixes: dial pad is now more responsive. The volume’s behavior, when Skype interacts with other apps, is now much more responsive when your status is set to Do Not Disturb. Notifications are not shown when Skype is in the background.

A piddling complaint: Skype is currently in the App Store under the category Social Networking. If Skype is a social networking app, is my telephone, email and my ability to speak in public also social networking applications?

I am now considering the use of Skype for all communication, I may reconsider my use of apps like Pingchat or Text+. As Skype becomes more mature on mobile platforms and increases its presence on other mobile OS, such as Android, joining to its dominance on the desktop it may well become the de facto communication choice and dominate this user space.

On the App Store and in the tech blogs there is a substantial amount of conversation in favor of video chat, the combination of Skype on the computer having video chat and the addition of this ability on the iPhone would be quite powerful. One can but dream.

Originally published in the Swiss online newspaper,, reedited for WholeThinking.

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