Yet another feature to be added to the PS Vita’s repertoire.
Skype announced that the Skype Video and Voice calling app will now be available to Vita users as a free download. The app will work with both the regular Wi-Fi and the 3G/Wi-Fi models.
As with computer users, Skype-to-Skype calling will be free of charge. Vita owners will be able to enjoy face-to-face chats with their friends as long as they have access to a network.
The Skype app will run in the background on the Vita so players will always have the opportunity to make quick calls. It’s as simple as pausing the game, popping open the Skype app and making or taking a call. Of course just how well the program will run, especially when there’s a game loaded up, will be put to the test by the masses very soon. Skype has also made a disclaimer that some programs will not be able to pause when a call comes in, so that’s a hurdle that you’ll have to negotiate when you reach it. Skype is also promising good quality and we can only hope they deliver.
When in game a call display will pop up in the top right corner to let you know someone’s trying to reach you. It’s not a very big window and shouldn’t be much of a problem while you’re playing. You might, however, want to tweak the notification settings to your likings. Getting a call beeping away while you’re watching a cut scene can definitely break your immersion.
One significant shortcoming is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to carry on an active call while you’re still playing a game. This feature would definitely make for a key selling point as you’d be able to chat with your friend while playing, especially handy if you’re both playing something online together. Of course even if such a feature is added we don’t know how Skype running will affect your active game. But with luck it’s something they can iron out.
As with computers users, Vita users will be able to purchase Skype Credit to use the program to connect to landlines and mobile phones. So you’re not stuck just chatting to fellow Skype users. This will make the Vita handy for those who are often on the run, though if you’re relying on Wi-Fi you will probably be facing sporadic usage as you move from zone to zone.
The app makes use of both the front and rear cameras on the Vita. So you can either let your friend look you in the eye or show them what’s around you. The quality should be up to specs with what the portable can handle normally. The Vita’s built in microphone can be used with any Skype-certified headset with ease. While this doesn’t quite replace a fully functional smartphone, at least now, when you’re not gaming the Vita can be handy as a way to stay in touch with friends and family.