Updated Skype iPhone App Adds Background Calling Support; No 3G Fee

There's no question that more and more smartphone users are using their data services more often than voice services. And with the popularity of texting on the rise, actually calling someone has become an event that happens far less frequently than it used to. And even when you do call someone, there's a good chance that the person has a Skype account, which means that you can call them for free (or close to free) rather than using pricey voice minutes from your carrier.

Having Skype on the iPhone was (and is) a pretty big deal, particularly after the company upgraded the app back in March to support calls over 3G. Before that, calls could only be completed over Wi-Fi. But with 3G calling enabled, it basically allowed users to use Skype exclusively for calls. The only problem? Since Skype couldn't remain "connected" at all times, you never knew who exactly was online at any given time.

But with iOS 4, and the advent of background processing, people instantly began to look for an update to the Skype app that would support leaving the app open in the background. If you could leave Skype open and connected in the background, your status would continually be online so long as you had your smartphone on you, and then other Skype members could give you a ring without using AT&T's voice minutes. Now, that update has arrived. The updated version means you can receive Skype calls while other apps are running, even when your iPhone is locked. And during a call, you can keep the conversation going while you switch to another task, such as checking a movie listing or reading an email.

And what's better, is that Skype has decided to do away with the proposed "charge for 3G access" fee. A few months ago, users were told that a fee would eventually be implemented in order to allow users to continue calling over 3G. For whatever reason (likely due to immense complaints), the company has thrown that fee out. Good news all around, so you might as well grab the update now.