Skype for Windows Phone has grown up, dropped its “beta” label, and begun offering free VoIP calls to users of handsets like Nokia’s Lumia 800 and 900. First released in preview form back in February, the full v1.0 app is a free download from the Windows Phone Marketplace, and supports video calling, contact management and lower-cost SkypeOut calls to landline and mobile numbers.
The beta version of the app has been upgraded to include friend management support, with the ability to invite new contacts, accept invitations from others, and then block and unblock contacts. Group chat is also supported.
3G/4G and WiFi connections can be used, and Skype has tested a handful of the existing Windows Phone models for compatibility. The Nokia Lumia 710, Lumia 800 and Lumia 900 will all work, as will HTC’s Titan and Radar, and Samsung’s Focus S and Focus Flash. It’s worth noting that not all have front-facing cameras, however, which will undermine the usefulness of video calling.
That’s not the only limitation. According to Skype, you won’t be able to use a Bluetooth headset with the app on Windows Phone, and it demands 512MB of RAM so the new range of cheaper, Tango-based handsets – such as Nokia’s Lumia 610 - which have just 256MB won’t be able to run it.
Most frustratingly, incoming calls will only be received if the Skype app is in the foreground; if you’re doing something else, you won’t get a notification. That significantly undermines the app’s usefulness at this stage, and hopefully Microsoft and Skype are working on rectifying it.