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Skype update brings videochat to Android smartphones: hands-on

Skype has brought its Android app inline with the iPhone and iPad, allowing videocalls on a range of Android phones.

At the time of writing, this includes the HTC Desire S, Google Nexus S, and Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Neo and Pro. Skype told us that it is “working to make Skype for Android 2.0 available for a wider range of Android handsets soon after launch.”

We’ve already tried it out on the Xperia Neo and Nexus S in the office, and it works just as well as the iPhone. The best bit is that Skype can run on your PC, iPhone or laptop; it works across operating systems and devices.

This means Skype on Android can perform videocalls with 4th-generation iPod Touches and the iPad 2; though there aren’t yet any Android tablets compatible with videocalling.

This is something that can’t be said of Apple’s FaceTime; and even better, it works (to an extent) on your 3G signal. Obviously, mileage may vary depending on the quality of 3G signal, but the selection of mid-range phones capable of videochat are all powerful enough to stream video from your friends across the globe.

Communicating with the Google Nexus S and iPhones, laptops and webcams was most effective over WiFi, but after some initial teething problems, we were able to videocall over 3G between the Nexus S and iPhone 4. Ensure you’re in an area with strong signal, and the video quality, though choppy, is surprisingly respectable for a 3G connection. You can see the quality of a 3G call on the left.

Tapping the screen will bring up the menu icon at the bottom, where you can switch video output between the front and rear-facing cameras.

We could also synchronise our Skype contacts with our phonebook contacts. With the Skype app embedded into your contacts, Skype calls are possible directly from the contact page. Skype-able contacts appear with the corresponding icon next to the name.

One final extra found in the update allows you to send SMS messages through your phone to Skype users.

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