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VoIP beta supports Java-enabled phones

Apr 28, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Proprietary VoIP software provider Skype is beta-testing a Java version of its flagship soft-phone. The company says its new “Mobile Skype” client will be available “soon” on Linux- and Java-based models from Motorola, including the Razr2 V8 and MotoRokr Z6.

(Click for larger view of the “Skype for your mobile” beta )

The mobile Skype version lets mobile users receive calls from other Skype users, and for users who purchase the SkypeIn service, from any phone, says eBay subsidiary Skype. Currently, the ability to make outgoing calls, via Skype-to-Skype and SkypeOut, is limited to seven markets with customers using the “3” Skypephone handset and service: Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Sweden, and the U.K.

The “Skype for your mobile” voice channels are not true VoIP at this point, so standard cellular tariffs still apply. The client uses cellular service “for the first and/or last legs of Skype, SkypeOut and SkypeIn calls,” says Skype, switching to and from VoIP via Skype gateways in between. The company claims the hybrid approach was required to keep the client “lightweight.” However, Skype's data-oriented features can use potentially free or low-cost VoIP connections via WiFi and 3G links. These features include chat, group chat, and “presence” — the ability to view when other Skype contacts are online.

Motorola's MotoRIZR Z6

The mobile version works on “about 50” of the most popular Java-based cellphones, says the company, with more on the way. The list includes at least two Linux based phones — the Motorola RAZR2 and MotoRIZR Z6 (pictured at right). However, Skype Mobile clients for these models are currently listed as “coming soon.”

Skype was the first company to popularize VoIP softphones, enabling users to call or chat with other Skype users at no cost. Low-cost SkypeOut and SkypeIn services let users place calls to landlines and mobile phones. To date, some 309 million registered users are responsible for more than 100 billion minutes worth of free Skype-to-Skype calls, claims the company.

Unlike VoIP phones based on standards like SIP (session initiation protocol), Skype clients use proprietary protocols. Additionally, the native Skype for Linux 2.0 client is distributed under a proprietary license. Long available for Linux, it has been ported to Nokia's Linux-based N800 and N810 Internet tablets.

On the mobile front, Skype has offered a general-purpose Windows Mobile client, but it requires a speakerphone or headset. The “3” service has offered its customers their own mobile Skype handset hardware, which does not require such peripherals.

Stated Skype GM Gareth O'Loughlin, “These are still the early days for making Skype calls on mobile phones, but we've already made great strides in this space. It is an important time for us to listen to our users' feedback, be it through surveys or user forums.”


“Skype for your mobile” can be downloaded directly over the air to a handset or to a computer, for later transfer to the handset. The free download and list of compatible phones should be available here. A “public” version will be released in “several months,” says Skype.

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