Skype for Android users in the U.S. will be able to start making VoIP calls over 3G today in addition to calls over Wi-Fi, a feature that loyal users have been wanting since the app first debuted.
This isn't the first time 3G calling has been available in the U.S. Back in March 2010, a partnership with Verizon brought a special version of Skype Mobile to select Android phones (and also to select BlackBerrys, the first time Skype became available for that platform).
Skype wouldn't share with us what, if anything, prevented it from releasing this version sooner--if there was an exclusivity deal with Verizon, if technical hurdles stood in the way, or if this was simply part of Skype's development plan all along.
What is evident is that Skype is continuing to develop its flagship VoIP app separately from Qik, the rival it bought in January. We thought for sure Skype would fold Qik's ability to place two-way video calls into Skype for Android and then retire the brand, but this doesn't appear to fit into Skype's plans, at least not yet. While loyal users will gladly welcome the ability to call over 3G, two-way video is still high on the wish list.
Skype-to-Skype calls remain free, with credits for calls to mobile phones and landlines selling at competitive rates.