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March 9, 2008 / Marco

Need a Quasi-Skype Application on your Cell Phone? Try iSkoot

There are quite a few VoIP and IM applications for the S60 operating system, but only one of them closely mimics Skype, and it is called iSkoot. Unlike Fring, for instance, iSkoot doesn’t work with other VoIP/IM networks and is, as a consequence, Skype’s legitimate sibling for Symbian. You may want to give iSkoot 1.01 a try if you have an S60 V8 or V9-compatible handset.

When iSkoot is installed, bringing it up from the Applications folder displays a series of static windows which help users read the license agreement and other relevant messages. Simply press “Key 1” a few times to move past these windows. Then you may either create a new Skype account or log in with your existing one. As you log in, you’ll see 4 tab sheets:

  • Contacts,
  • Online contacts,
  • Skype out contacts,
  • Chats.

For hardcore Skype users pressing “Key 1” in iSkoot would bring up a list of ultra-familiar options in each tab sheet. Users can change their status, add or delete contacts, initiate a text or voice chat, refresh the list of contacts, and sign out of iSkoot. To receive Skype calls, we should specify an arbitrary but permanent phone number and set the application to receive calls.

All in all, I think this is the best Skype-replacement application I’ve seen for the Symbian OS, and I hope its development continues at a rapid pace. In particular, it would be cool to be able to send and receive files, initiate video chats and create conference rooms via iSkoot.

The following notes are for the visually impaired who use a screen reader to access S60 handsets.

  1. The first time you run iSkoot, you should deal with at least 3 static windows which are initially unreadable. If, however, you press a number in each window, they become accessible using Nuance TALKS.
  2. 2. The only important iSkoot feature which is inaccessible to Nuance TALKS is its text chat. That is, TALKS doesn’t read incoming text messages and you can’t navigate them manually. Hope Nuance offers a work-around for this issue soon.
  3. 3. You can use the TALKS Object Viewer and Graphic Labeler to label several icons in iSkoot. For instance, you can label the status of your contacts and use descriptions like Online, Offline and No shared details. The icon status appears before the name of each contact.

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