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Verizon Teases Android Skype Users with Wi-Fi

Wednesday night Skype updated its Android-based client to include support for Wi-Fi connections. Previously the service was available only for Verizon's 3G network, and would not load until the user shut off their Wi-Fi connection. Many users--including myself--protested against the lack of Wi-Fi support.

The reason behind the move was somewhat obvious however: it prevented users from purchasing an unactivated (contract-less) Verizon Android phone and using it as a Wi-Fi based, VoIP device. Instead, consumers wanting to use Skype would need to sign up with Verizon to use Skype's VoIP function.

But now it seems that Skype and Verizon has answered the call. Wednesday night the app description originally read as "Simultaneous Wi-Fi & 3G," revealing that Verizon Android owners could now boot up the VoIP/IM client while still accessing the local Wi-Fi. That is indeed the case, and the OS will show both the Wi-Fi and 3G icons in use after the app loads.

However the app description was later changed to read "Wi-Fi runs while app is on 3G." Users still need the 3G connection to make and receive VoIP calls--it's unknown if Skype requires the 3G connection for instant messaging. Further tests with unactivated Android-based Verizon phones showed that Skype VoIP calling would not work without a data plan.

So what was the point of adding Wi-Fi support? Good question. Users are no longer forced to shut off Wi-Fi connections in order to use the app. But then again, with both connections active, what are consumers using when downloading from the Market, streaming music, or simply surfing the web? Looks as though it may be Wi-Fi--a recent broadband outage (thanks Earl) showed Skype for Android unable to connect until the phone was switched over to 3G.