Apple iPhone and BlackBerry Users to Get Skype

Free app will arrive Tuesday for end-running charges for cellphone minutes

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iPhone and BlackBerry users will get to end-run charges for cellphone minutes with free software coming from Skype. The popular service already provides millions of users with cheap Internet voice calls over desktop computers and other handsets, including Nokia and Windows Mobile models.

Reports say the Skype software will be available Tuesday at the iPhone App Store. The BlackBerry version is expected in May.

Apple will limit the use of Skype to Wi-Fi connections and not over the data network of AT&T, the iPhone's carrier here. When connected, the app will work much like the desktop version with free calls to other Skype users and small fees for calls to traditional phones. Users can save big money when calling overseas compared to the fees for making conventional cellphone calls.

Other software already enables Skype calls with the iPhone. But Jessica Dolcourt at CNet reports how Skype's will be better, according to the new software's engineer:

He says what the other apps use is a workaround that requires them to channel calls through a server and transcode audio, resulting in poorer-quality calls than Skype can do in its own app.