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IM+ For Skype Offers Free WiFi Calling From Your BlackBerry; Deal of the Day: Save 50% on IM+ for Skype Today Only!

By Bla1ze on 10 Feb 2010 07:17 am EST
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IM+ For Skype Offers Free WiFi Calling

A few days ago Shape Services released an updated version of their IM+ Skype applicationt, this time around touting its offerings of free WiFi calling from your BlackBerry utilizing Skype. Given in the past applications like this have used a SkypeOut/SkypeIn call back feature users often found that while the calls were free, they were also using their minutes up when placing these calls. Not exactly my definition of free. I wanted true WiFi calling. No carrier connection just WiFi, which is what SHAPE claimed with this.

Quite honestly, it seems as though the BlackBerry platform is among the last to see this type of offering arrive. The iPhone has plenty of applications that can make use of VoIP and even the official Skype app for it, allows WiFi calling. Heck, I don't even have a SIM card in my iPhone and it still works for calls. Android is no exception there either, the Android marketplace has many apps in it that act the same way. Over time, I have heard many reasons as to why BlackBerry couldn't make use of this feature. Everything from it's a hardware issue right down to it being a security issue. All of which just sounded like rather half-arsed excuses to me. Here is a quick look at SHAPE services IM+ Skype offering, their latest offering promises free WiFi calling over VoIP and I put it to the test.

Skype Settings

After having downloaded and installed the application, I was able to successfully set up my Skype account and log in. The set up process can be a little confusing at times as to what options it is that you should be choosing, but there is some great resources on the SHAPE site to assist. For the most part, as long as you know exactly what your Skype plan is and how you wish to make and receive calls then you should be pretty much set. The auto configuration process makes sure of that.

Skype Calling

Given that I made mention of SkypeIn and SkyeOut services, this screen is part of the configuration process in how to avoid any of those charges or minute uses. For this case, I was only concerned with being able to use WiFi to make calls outbound free of charge. Other scenarios are going to be based on how you plan on using the services and which Skype plan, if any you are subscribed to.

Skype Contacts

With my Skype IM+ services all set up, carrier network disabled and WiFi turned on, I was able to successfully login to Skype as per normal and make calls direct from my BlackBerry using nothing but VoIP as well as chat with my contacts over WiFi. Call quality was not exactly perfect but it's what I have become used to as being "good" for Skype in the middle of the day. Skype IM+ does have a few things that users may not like though.

One point of concern maybe for some is that in order to speak to the other party you have to use a similar to "push to talk" method. For example, if I wish to speak, I have to hold down the a convenience key in order for my audio to go out. Otherwise, you'll just be talking and the other person will not hear you. Not that big of a deal but worth a mention for some who may not like that.

Overall, given the other options out there in the BlackBerry application space for apps that connect to Skype, I'd have to put Skype IM+ at the top. It does what it says. And if avoiding using your minutes or having to pay for each call via SkypeOut is a concern, it just might be worth the buy in price for you, especially if you have a Skype subscription. As it stands, Skype IM+ is available for $29.95 and there is a 7 day free trial available. Coupling this app with a Skype subscription, could be a money saving move in the longrun given the amount some carriers charge for roaming. If anyone is headed to Mobile World Congress, you can also visit SHAPE services there at stand 7A46, Hall 7.

Reader comments

IM+ For Skype Offers Free WiFi Calling From Your BlackBerry; Deal of the Day: Save 50% on IM+ for Skype Today Only!

22 Comments

My understanding was that the RIM API limited developers' freedom and as such stood in the way of making true VoIP communication possible. It seems Shape Services are the first to deliver this type of true* VoIP many users have been longing for and if it actually works the way it is advertised, does this mean the RIM API had nothing to do with the issue? Do other developers use it as an excuse of not being able to provide BlackBerry users true VoIP, even if it was possible?

IM+ for Skype clearly has an advantage now over other Skype clients and I hope it starts pushing other developers to work on their clients as well and provide true VoIP. Free WiFi calling is something I've dreamt of for long and now it seems possible.

Couple of things why I won't be buying this, though:
a) I dislike the IM+ interface; it looks horrible and operation is sluggish.
b) Shape Services has the worst customer support I've ever experienced.
c) Their applications are overpriced. The same app (IM+ for Skype) costs $4.99 for the iPhone / iPod Touch. Even with this 50% sale BlackBerry users are still paying much more for the same app.

* I haven't tried this application out and therefore don't know and can't comment on how it actually works. It seems like it's half-duplex. Rather disappointing... still a long way before true VoIP starts rolling out for BlackBerry?

Contacted App Store Dev support team to look into this.  It's working fine in the mobile app store and app store client, so i updated the links to point to the mobile app store for now. Should hopefully have the add to cart issue on the full web store fixed soon. Thx for the patience!

What I really want to know is: Can I place Blackberry to Blackberry (as in IM+ to IM+) calls over WiFi? If so, then I'll consider buying it for sure.

Push-to-talk is something to get used to, but at least there is a VOIP option now.

Maybe other developers can continue to advance this capability even more.

I'm slightly confused. Does the other end user has to have this app also in order for me to use it?

What I really want to know is: Can I place Blackberry to Blackberry (as in IM+ to IM+) calls over WiFi? If so, then I'll consider buying it for sure.

I did download the app but deleted it since I don't have WIFI on my phone. But there is an option to place a call via WI-FI. As for receiving calls you might need Skyp In.

IM+ Skype has a seven day trial you can download the phone and try for yourself.

Long time ago, I've been asking questions on Fring forum about why BlackBerries are not suported, and the admin answered "The BlackBerry isn't capable of playing and recording audio at the same time. You need that to have a true voip"

So, this makes sense, cause there obviously is something wrong with that, since Bla1ze had to push the button to talk. There might be some hardweare limit.

Anyway, I use Fring (free) on my Nokia e63 and I use Skype and Gtalk with no problems, specially not with that "pust to talk" issue ... lol. Anyway,29$ for this piece of crap is way too much, and I wouldn't be using it even if it was free.

using it on my bb 9700 on tmo with os 330. tried to add a skype contact and the other person can't see my request. but he is able to send request from his iphone skype and i'm able to see it just fine. can u relay this bug back to the developer? can i get a free copy version for detecting this bug?

I have storm2 9520. I tried ten times to call myfriend with voip only and everytime disconnected !. The user interface is awful !I don't pay nothing to them :(

I've been waiting to buy this program for weeks. The one day that it goes on sale, I'm out having surgery! Some odds huh. Anyone know how I can still get it for half off. Thanks

Can it use 3G/EVDO for skype-to-skype calls?

Sheesh, I might as well buy a WinMob toy with wifi and use the native skype app.