Traveling with an iOS device and need to get online? Now there’s another option – Skype. The VoIP company has launched its WiFi-hotspot product that we’ve seen rumored for quite some time and it’s now available to download for iOS.
With the new Skype WiFi app, you can go online on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch (running iOS 4.1 or above with multitasking) at over 1 million WiFi hotspots around the world, including hotels, airports, train stations, convention centres, bars and restaurants.
Funds will be pulled from your exising Skype credit, so you’ll want to make sure to have some loaded up. As you do, pricing starts at $.06 per minute, depending on where you’re using the connection. Though it’s worth noting that it’s free for now, as Skype demos the service, and will remain free until August 21st.
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That per-minute basis isn’t new, mind you. In fact, Skype appears to be partnering with airport WiFi mogul boingo, which also charges via timeframes instead of on a bandwidth cap. It’s a handy change to how you can access WiFi, preventing you from having to buy a 24 hour pass when you’ll only need to use it for 3 or 4 hours.
Since you’re still using a near-public network, Skype WiFi isn’t as safe as you’d be using something like a portable hotspot, but it’s probably more convenient in many cases. It’s simply worth noting that you’ll want to take the standard precautions when you’re using it, such as not doing your banking or sending over sensitive information. Even though all information should be encrypted, this is just something that we should all have learned by now.
Skype for iOS runs as a multitasking app, so you’ll have to make sure that you’re using a device that’s capable. That is to say that your old iPhone 3G or 2nd generation iPod Touch isn’t going to work. As the company states, you’ll need iOS 4.1 or higher installed, as well.
At $.06 per minute, it should be an affordable option and it’s certainly better than buying specific chunks of time that expire. I’ll be adding it to my iPhone for an upcoming trip and we’ll let you know how the coverage fares.