Skype on Thursday introduced a new version of its iOS app, which enables free video chatting between iPhones, iPods and iPads over WiFi and 3G connections. Skype users will also be able to make video calls with their friends on Windows computers, as well as with Mac users.
The new Skype iOS app is more flexible solution for video chatting than Apple's own FaceTime, which is built into the OS. Skype users are able to make video calls to other users of the service via WiFi and 3G, whereas FaceTime is limited to WiFi. Skype users can also video chat with either Windows or Mac users of the service, while FaceTime only has a Mac counterpart (so far).
The biggest advantage the Skype iOS app has over FaceTime is that it enables video chatting on older iPhone models and it's not limited to iPhone 4 and the latest iPod touch. Skype's iOS app can use the back camera on the iPhone 3GS, creating interoperability between various iOS devices, including iPads (but there is still no iPad screen optimized version of the app, and you can't initiate video calls).
When making a Skype call from the iPhone app, a gauge will indicate whether a video call is recommended based on the network speed. Though video calls will work over 3G, unless you have a strong connection, the video quality might be affected. This could be one of the reasons why Apple does not allow FaceTime over 3G (unless you jailbreak your phone).
Skype has yet to extend video calling interoperability with users of Google Android phones, unlike other video calling solutions such as Tango or Fring. However, the new video calling feature in the iOS app is a welcomed addition after Skype's embarrassing two-day outage last week.
To see how the video calling feature in the new Skype iOS app, check out the promotional video from Skype below: