Skype Around the World
Public Wi-Fi, despite approaching ubiquity, is still something of a pain to get a handle on for many mobile or tablet users. Some places offer it free, but you need a password, and there's a queue, and when you get to the end, the staff member of the bar/cafe/wherever doesn't know what it is.
Others charge through a pain-in-the-backside signup process, and offer hourly or longer bundles, which is annoying if all you want is a quick check of your email (maybe you should have got that 3G iPad?) and won't be visiting again.
To make things slightly easier, Skype is now offering its Wi-Fi service on iOS devices as a wide-ranging and easy solution. It ties in to your existing Skype account and lets you use your credit for wireless access. The service is priced from US$ 0.06/UK£ 0.04p/€ 0.05 a minute
Skype's service joins the mass of other Wi-Fi services
Grab the app from the iTunes store, enter your details and you're good to go. The app will find the nearest hotspot to you, once you're in range. While it's competing against many other globe-spanning Wi-Fi services that are common in hotels and airports, the massive Skype userbase gives it an edge.
To mark the launch, the app is offering an hour of free Wi-Fi this weekend (Aug 20-21). Presumably Skype will be hoping that the next iPhone doesn't include 4G connectivity, which could dampen Wi-Fi usage, but there are still many millions of users who could take advantage of it.
Apple will probably be encouraging any service that makes it easier to gain access to its upcoming iCloud service and we can expect apps for Microsoft's (now Skype's parent company) range of Windows Phone 7 devices soon. If Skype continues to play the market in an agnostic fashion, then Android and BlackBerry (have you seen the new BB7 models?) apps can't be far behind.