Skype turns out to be THE killer app on the N900

by Volker Weber

Skype is the killer app on the N900

I could spend a long time discussing the pro and cons of several smart phones, but I have grown completely attached to the N900, for one simple reason: Skype. At last year's Mobile World Congress Nokia and Skype promised Skype for the N97, and that never materialized. Bummer. Well, we know the reason: carriers hate Skype. With Skype you no longer need text messages, you can even skip most of your phone calls. All you need is a data plan.

The N900 is a different story. It's not sold through carriers. It is completely open. You are root. And Nokia is not holding back, so you get Skype, even if the carriers hate it.

Skype on the N900 means I am never "away". All inbound messages appear on the phone. At all times. The keyboard allows me to answer them. I can call the person at the other end if that is too tedious. And it just works. Last year I tried Skype on the Android G1 and unfortunately it was unreliable. There is also Skype on the iPhone, but that cannot run in the background which makes it almost useless.

Anyway, Skype is the reason I can't get away from the N900. Skype, and Google Talk. Some people can't run Skype in their corporate network. But when they log into GMail they also have Google Talk. And it does all the same things on the N900. Presence, instant messages, voice calls. All integrated into the experience.

There you have it: the editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award for the N900.

[Check out the full res version of that screenshot]


Hi Volker, Happy New Year
So the N900 allows you to use Skype over wireless or GSM for both making phone calls and for keyboard style chat? That's pretty cool - no wonder the carriers don't like it.
I may have to rethink my Christmas present which was to be the iPhone (although not bought yet because I am moving house and want to check network coverage first). I will certainly check out the N900.

Rob Wills, 2010-01-07 11:54

Did you try Skype on a Blackberry? I think it works just fine, of course as a background application.

And battery utilization on a 9700 is just overwhelming, I am in the third day without charging and the battery is still half full.

Felix Binsack, 2010-01-07 11:55

Rob, yes, full Skype support over both Wi-Fi and 3G. Be careful though. It's a completely different animal to an iPhone. Hardly any 3rd party apps for instance. This is a computer with a phone.

Not yet, Felix. Skype is not generally available on the BlackBerry. There is a closed Skype Lite beta, which I am not part of. There is also Skype on Windows Mobile, which I haven't used either, for obvious reasons. :-)

Volker Weber, 2010-01-07 12:03

Volker, you are right. I have been using iSkoot as Skype on Blackberry. It does not support voice, but awareness and chat work just fine.

Felix Binsack, 2010-01-07 14:36

This sounds all very promising. I remember how you loved to ridicule the Nokia Maemo effort in previous years, so it's encouraging that you like this device. But what do you think of it beyond Skype, now that you tried it a bit longer?

(The battery time is still one major issue that keeps me away from it...)

Hanno Zulla, 2010-01-07 15:05

It is still not really a phone. It's a computer that lets you make phone calls. The battery is still a huge issue, but remember that I got a little something from Nokia.

I'd love to have a great Facebook client that lets me check my news feed, "like" items and comment on them. I'd love to have a Sonos controller, and a news reader. But I have the most important thing: a Skype client.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-07 15:12

There is also a Skype lite for Android. It requires a data plan but also uses call minutes because it dials a 'local' phone number to connect to Skype to make calls.

Richard Schwartz, 2010-01-08 07:05

FYI, the photo can't be viewed - no permission.

Alex Boschmans, 2010-01-08 07:36

Here are a few more things that would make the N900 a killer phone.

iSync for Mac - I know it's boring to write the sync but this little thing for addressbook and ical would make Mac users so happy. This should be a given with any new product rolled out which supports a Mac.

OS that protects the phone - really when the battery drains down to 20% then nice the shit out of running apps that are not core phone functions so the phone stays alive and works.

AIM in the Conversations - They have jabber, skype, google talk and sip why not AIM which most mac users use. no one I know stays on skype for chatting, they all say "switch to skype for the call" ..that's it. There is pidgin for AIM but it would be cool if it was all together.

Google mail fix - it took a whole day for the phone to catch up with the google mail on IMAP. Download only the top 50 most recent emails, the rest you can do later. When I set up a new phone, i want to see my current emails in under 2 mins... not 8 hrs later.

Fix the network stack - there is something funky about the wifi and 3g, mine seems to hang alot and I have to hit refresh all the time on the browser. I never have to do this on the iphone.

Also your GPS sucks - This was the problem with the N95 too, trying to get sat signals, learn from apple, return some sort of value in 1sec. then look for better location values as the app loads or pulls data. Multiprocessing people.. you have it.. use it. Don't show me the flashing sat icon at the top to let me know it's trying to get position.. i don't care, just return something, anything.

Bryan McDade, 2010-01-08 10:53

iSync: I did not even notice. I have long since started syncing through Google. Otherwise I could not sync BlackBerry, Pre, several Nokias ...

Don't run down the battery. That could be hacked together if somebody wants to do that.

AIM: I have stopped using that a long time ago. Skype all the way, for everything. Google Talk as a backup. If you write your own AIM client, then AOL wants money from you. As do Yahoo and Microsoft. You can ignore that, if you are not Nokia.

I did not run into that GMail problem. Or I immediately set it to 200 messages. Can't remember.

No issues with the network stack. At all.

Yes, GPS sucks. But my photos are still tagged with the correct location. Hmmh.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-08 11:11

Btw.: GoogleTalk support also AIM contacts (=ICQ contacts, too).

Mathias Ziolo, 2010-01-08 11:19

How would you do that, Mathias?

Hubert Stettner, 2010-01-08 11:28

Mathias, you can log into AIM from GMail, but it is not a Google Talk feature:

Note that an AIM account is required to use this feature. AIM in Gmail is not a Google Talk and AIM federation; it's the ability to sign in to your AIM messaging account from Gmail. Gmail uses Open AIM to provide this feature.

Volker Weber, 2010-01-08 11:41

Oh well, sorry for that. I'm using AIM over GMail.

Anyway, if the N900 supports jabber then there should be no problem finding an AIM or ICQ gateway on a open jabber server. This actually isn't the same as a native client but good enough for chatting.

Mathias Ziolo, 2010-01-08 13:55

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