Skype is one of the very few online services that I couldn't live without.
As a marble-mouthed Brit who suffers from occasional bouts of homesickness, Skype lets me stay in touch with friends and family for little or no cost. If you want to read more about some of the benefits of Skype, watch my video review for a full walk-through.
The only drawback with Skype is that you have to be tethered to your laptop or desktop computer to be able to use it. So if I had the urge while sitting on the train or bus to leave abusive voicemails to members my ever dwindling UK-based social group, I'd be forced to pay the near-criminal international rates from America's worst cell phone provider - AT&T.
But all that has now changed after Skype announced it's releasing both iPhone and Blackberry versions of its software. The iPhone application is available for download now, with the Blackberry version available in May.
So how does it work, I hear you cry? First you download the app and install it onto your phone. If you don't have a Skype account you can set one up, but if you're already registered simply log-on with your existing username and password.
Once signed-on, you can make calls to other Skype users for free or you can call mobile or landline phones using Skype Out credits at very low rates. So if you've got a friend in Australia who's signed-on to Skype, you can call him or her for free on your iPhone or Blackberry....and that's enough to get my shriveled little heart beating slightly faster.
But there is a catch. And surprise surprise, that catch is courtesy of - you guessed it - the beloved cell-phone companies. You can only use Skype via a Wi-Fi connection which means you need to be somewhere where there's a Wi-Fi hotspot. You can't simply make a Skype call over your phone's regular cell connection (you know, the one that you pay AT&T about 100 bucks a month for).
Services like Skype are theoretically a big threat to cell companies, so they're making sure to protect their core business. But even with this slightly annoying limitation, the Skype application is quick, easy, graceful and most importantly the call quality is excellent.
So if you have social circle that extends beyond the end of your block, Skype is worth checking out - and if you have an iPhone or Blackberry this should become a valuable feather in your communications bow.