Why Skype for Windows Mobile Sucks… On Purpose!

Skype is a great and most-useful program, and undoubtedly one of the revolutionizing services in the world of online communication. Windows Mobile (both versions 5 and 6) is an awesome examples of mobile productivity and portable office that fits in your pocket. But unfortunately, the two just don’t mix… not at all. Skype for Windows Mobile has been out for years now, and it’s completely unusable thanks to a problem that has yet to be addressed: it’s absolutely useless without a headset.

Skype doesn’t make this too obvious, but if you take a look at the Installation Instructions for Windows Mobile, you will find this:

At the moment, Skype calls only come through the loudspeaker or a headset. We’re working on this [emphasis added], but in the meantime, please use a headset for the best audio quality.

“We’re working on this…” for how long!? Skype for Windows Mobile is at version 2.2 and has been out for years – how many years shall we give them? Any suggestions?

Nor is the problem quite as simple as they make it out be: The biggest problem with playing incoming audio from Skype conversations over a loudspeaker (whether on a mobile device or a desktop PC) is the feedback noise… The person you’re talking to will hear himself as you hear him – just like when someone joins a talkshow and they have their own radio tuned to the same station and it all sounds wrong – except with an even greater amount of lag thanks to the higher latency.

Even if it wasn’t for the feedback problem, sound coming over the loudspeaker is quite a major issue… for one thing, each phone will now produce twice the amount of sound – because you hear both sides of the conversation at full-volume (imagine that in a theatre or posh restaurant!), and what if you needed to make a private phone call? Does everyone need to know what your wife (or worse) is whispering in your ear or what stocks you’re about to sell?

The biggest problem is… it’s not too difficult for Skype to address this issue. Others have even done it for them in the form of a free program (aptly-named “Switch”) that you can run each type you need to use Skype, and it will automagically “switch” the audio over to the earpiece – so why doesn’t Skype get a move on it and fix the problem themselves??

So basically, we have a problem: Skype is unusable on Windows Mobile devices. And a solution: Skype just needs to use a different API call to output audio via the built-in earpiece instead of the loudspeaker. And then we have the obstacle: Skype doesn’t want to fix the problem!

That’s the only possible solution, and for good reason, too: Skype has its own line of “certified” Skype-compatible wi-fi phones that they want you, oh Windows Mobile user, to be using instead.

Conflict of interest? Hell yes!

Their phones certainly aren’t cheap, especially stylish, or anything remotely advanced enough to be considered a possible substitute to the likes of an HTC or E-Ten… But Skype obviously doesn’t see it that way…

How come it’s only Microsoft that gets picked-on for preferring its own products to others? How come Skype gets away with something as insane and so simply stupid as this while others get multi-million dollar fines and then some?

Most importantly of all, Skype already makes plenty of money off of their system, no matter what device you use! So is getting a hundred bucks off of very few users (those willing to fall for the “official” Skypephones) worth losing out on potential thousands by Windows Mobile users who just don’t want to have to use a headset to take advantage of Skype? To us, it doesn’t make much sense… but what do we know.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Skype will tend to this issue anytime soon. When a product is at version 2.2 and the beta changelog has, all these long years, included this “minor obstacle” in the “Known Issues” section and yet nothing has been done about it (despite how easy it would be to fix), it’s probably a very safe bet to say it’s going to stay that way for another long time to come; this is what happens when you mix service and implementation providers together, and nothing good ever comes of it.

40 thoughts on “Why Skype for Windows Mobile Sucks… On Purpose!

  1. I’ve stopped using Skype for a while now, it’s been nothing but a PITA from a business point-of-view.

    It’s no wonder eBay is regretting their purchase decision…

    Sad, really.

  2. Yeah the software is developed by Eten. Others have tried porting it over to other devices as well but without success so I guess there is some hard-wiring to it as well.

  3. ya, Skype Mobile had some potential to deliver great products to the mobile PDA/ smart phone users, but they’re so slow @ updating and fixing bugs that I just wanna fu@@ing scream at them. 

    Even if they had only 1 (one) single person working full time on the whole Skype Mobile programming/updates, I would think we’d have these problems fixed within a short amount of time.

    Why does Skype still have a problem with the +1 country code and lack of caller Identification?

    Why haven’t they offered Skype Mobile texting (like the PC Skype has)???

    Or even better… Being able to send AND receive text messages??? 

     Screw the stupid Skype mobile chat… who uses that anyways?? Why not replace it with a IM type    service.

    Why can’t you add pictures to your contacts? Come on, seriously; SOMEBODY make it happen.

    Include some sort of gmail tab??

    Bluetooth  compatibility ??? Skype does know what this is by now… right??? 

    What the hell is this crap with voicemail systems cutting out and refusing me from leaving voice messages???

    If they got REALLY creative, Skype mobile would include a finger scroll style action for the contacts list. (even freeware contact programs include this finger scrolling option).

    Skype should just fire and rehire almost everyone who is wasting money and time in their Skype Mobile department.  

     

  4. I discovered quite by accident that Skype calls work fine via my Sony Bluetooth Stereo headset using A2DP audio profile (I have an HP RW6815 WM5 device). I guess Skype is fooled by this particular profile which just takse over from the normal speakers and mic. Can’t say it will work with every stereo Bluetooth headset but I’m happy at any rate.

  5. There are many programs that will redirect the audio to bluetooth now. BTAudio is one such program. check out xda-developers (do a google search) for all the info, and other goodies that makes WindowsMo a more viable platform. Skype is awesome for the PocketPC, just be sure to overclock your processor if you are using an TI OMAP 850 proc.

    On a side note: if you have ATT and a 3G/EDVO compadible WinMo device, you will be in heaven. Just get the lowest ATT plan that includes rollover, and add their unlimited data. Unlimited Calling to and From your phone! The minutes saved via rollover can be used later when you need to use a cell call (maybe not around a 3G enabled tower).

  6. Another reason Skype for Mobile sucks is that Skype for PC sucks. Really, do they really consider the quality acceptable ? I know I don’t.

  7. I recently tried to get my skype phone number changed over from my old Skype name to my new skype name, but no reply from skype. Does anyone know if they can do this?? I’ve already received 2 emails reminding me to renew my phone number and unlimited calling, but it’s been a month since I asked about having the phone number switched over.

    SKyPe: How can you expect your customers to reply to this crap email and buy your products if you refuse to have any sort of customer service??? Do you have any employees????

  8. Good article. Yes, it is a shame. I am looking for a new cell phone, and was considering something that could do both regular calls and Skype. Maybe the cell phone companies are paying them off? I think this idea will get more popular regardless of what Skype does…..someone else will fill that void.

  9. I agree that it’s possible someone is being paid off. I’ve heard that there are some legal battles going on. I don’t understand why, though, now that Skype is owned by eBay and now has PayPal integration, Skype doesn’t just take over and do WTF they want. They are now part of a very powerful cluster of companies; shouldn’t they be the ones bribing to get what they want???? It really pisses me off that Skype has no P.R. It’s like Skype is just a big, stupid, unresponsive machine.

  10. the reason why skype is not able to redirect audio to earpiece speaker is not because of their fault. its a technical reason that leads to such a situation.
    actually the thing is out of hands of M$; its device manufacturer specific. its because the way the earpiece speaker is interface to the processor. some processors interface via baseband subsys part of chip, some others via seperate controller chip. So the solution will not be unique until all mfrs decide to use same processor.

    cant help :<

    -g

  11. Ya,
    I guess I understand that certain manufacturers have incompatible ways of routing the audio input; BUT… this kind of issue should be expected and dealt with by ANY software company expecting to stay in business.

    SO why the hell can’t Skype take note of this????
    You’d think that they could afford to pay one tech guy to come up with a list specifying which PDAs and Pocket PCs are incompatible due to hardware.

    I just don’t understand why Skype (Skype Mobile) is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo disconnected from the compatibility and functionality problems of their incredibly shittty product.

  12. So, on my desktop pc, skype runs perfectly and everybody I call can hear me on their phones just fine. no echo, and no latency. it’s great.

    Skype for windows mobile, however, is a different story in my opinion. I have it on m Treo 700wx and wow, just trying to use skype on EVDO is horrible. Too much latency and the other party cannot hear most of what I say.

    When it comes to audio, skype for windows mobile only works on my end when I am using a wired audio headset. It does not work with my Blue Ant bluetooth speakerphone, which is excellent by the way, Far better than Motorola’s speaker phone.

    Anyway, that’s my 2cents for now.

  13. It’s not out of M$ hands. Doesn’t WM make use of audio drivers, like any normal operating system these days? In that case it’s about time M$ get their act together and implement Hardware Abstraction in WM. Because without a HAL, WM will be banised back to the DOS age forever.

  14. Hi cud somebody help me plz..i wanna buy a mobile phone thru wich i can use skype..in India v hav phones like htc n asus..not sure which models i can hav a look at b4 buyin htc..i’d need to buy 2 of em cuz one i’l leave back home while m travellin n one i’d carry..

  15. Something’s wrong with it. Obviously, WinMo and Skype should be a match made in heaven, but it is not. I was thinking of getting a WinMo phone, intending to use it with Skype. Now, I’m back to my Nokia N800, which is by the way, perfect for Skype in Wi-Fi.

  16. You’re retarded.

    It’s Microsoft who needs to develop the API that will allow this.

    The phone and the OS portion of Windows Mobile are mostly separated. So programs can’t access the ear piece, only the phone can.

  17. Not HTC in particular, but from other Windows Mobile hardware manufacturers such as ETen.

    While the phone and platform are indeed seperate, there are plenty of standard APIs that one can use to access and modify functionality on either end.

  18. In fact, it’s possible to write your own “phone” software for Windows Mobile that entirely replaces the existing one, complete with all features and functionality. It’s actually illegal for antitrust reasons for Microsoft to not ship the needed APIs to make such a thing possible.

  19. For some reason, your last response didn’t get published here, but it covered the idea that Microsoft must facilitate a phone app replacement.

    From my knowledge previous to your response (which I was clearly unaware of), you can only access certain features of the phone through certain API calls that have the limited functionality of phone functions. Without being rude (like I was before tee hee :) )… as for a bridge between the OS and audio to the internal speaker (which can only be accessed via the phone portion probably lower-level calls), it doesn’t exist.

    However, your response is that it does exist. Show me where it exists, because I’m seriously interested; because if I can get this working, and get the Microsoft WM6 VoIP client working (so I can use Gizmo5), I’ll be happy man.

  20. neat, i’ve found the info in some forum somewhere. I’ll take a look at xda-devs and ppcgeeks and see if someone ripped out the cab and the settings changes. Cool man. Thanks (sorry about being rude earlier :) ).

  21. I don’t know how familiar you are with the Windows Mobile API, but it allows for communicating with just about anything. You can send a message to either the loudspeaker or the internal headset by using the appropriate flags in the waveOutMessage() function.

    The waveOutMessage() call sends a handle to the audio resource to be played to the low-level audio drivers, where the call is interpreted and the flags are read and accordingly the sound is sent to the correct output device.

    waveOutMessage: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa910382.aspx

    From an MSDN blog post on the topic:

    If param1 is a wave handle (and bSpeaker is TRUE), the sound will be routed to the speaker until you either call the API again with the same handle and bSpeaker==FALSE, or you close the wave handle (or your app exits). If an application calls this API with bSpeaker==FALSE, audio should be routed to the earpiece rather than the speaker.

    I highly recommend you read the linked blog post. It details all the information and use cases with lots of insight on use and consequences.

    Bottom-line: APIs exist to do exactly what we’re suggesting in our post. Skype doesn’t use them, but you can.

    It’s always a good idea to check out the Windows API documentation on MSDN before coming to any conclusions, regardless of what you may have heard on the matter – there are a lot of uninformed sources out there.

  22. Anybdoy know how to force Skype Mobile to use the mic on my Jabra BT8010 headset instead of the mic on my HTC Athena with WM6.1?

    The loudspeaker thing is fortunately not a problem for me. All sound goes to my Jabra BT8010 after pushing a button on the Jabra.
    But mic input remains through the Athena. The mic on my Athena however has very bad sound quality. The person on the other end of the conversation has trouble hearing me.

    Thanks for any help

  23. Skype works excellent with Windows mobile when used on a Pocket PC like intended, I don’t think the Skype creators are out to help or make it easier for you to basically rip off your mobile service provider.

  24. “rip off”?

    Skype is built to “rip-off” communications operators. When you use Skype on your desktop, you’re “ripping off” your landline provider. So why should using Skype on your mobile be any different, provided the wi-fi connection is there?

  25. Well… you can always use a functioning SIP client and not use skype and still use VoIP over data connection. But, I don’t know of a client that puts the sound though the earpiece, as stated previously. If someone finds one, then post it.

  26. Use acbToggleBT to redirect the Audio from your bluetooth to/fro you windows mobile. Works fine that way for me on my Treo 800w.

  27. Why Skype 3 for wm switch off when phone screen switch off, like stand by? Once it worked when I charge the phone with USB and let skype be on screen. I was on-line the whole night and finally I got the call in the morning. But on the road it doesn’t work in background. So stupid if nobody could call me. I’m using wm6.5 and Omnia I8000…

  28. I has several BT headsets, mostly samsung. and when i used skype, I can use as the headset but not the mic input…

    I saw my friend’s skype on his iphone, they got a nice interface, wm with skype is so ugly, and not touch friendly, i mean is kinda of small, I wondering if SKYPE developer is looking at this. but i feel like they need to do something about this.

    I am paying a lot of money for them too. and kinda regret that it is not working perfectly on my WM phone.

  29. Great article, and teamwork. Got it working on my Xperia X1 thanks to Giles version. Thank you very much guys!

  30. If your skype mobile on winmo can go standby, then you need softwares called “stay unlock” to override your system. Google it.

    But I think skype mobile the software itself has that function, so Stay Unlock is mainly for you to download extra large files, transferring files etc etc in which you need to off the screen to save power.

    Beware, 3g connections suck a lot of power.

  31. Hi Guys, I solved my problrm with external speaker using Skype. I have HTC Cruise 3650, WM6.1; Skype 3.0
    I installed the program autoswitch, which I downloaded from the following site:
    http://pocketnow.com/tweaks-hacks/how-to-use-your-internal-handset-speaker-with-skype-calls

    If you have installed Skype on the device memory, then follow the instruction on the site.

    Since I have installed skype on my SD card (Storrage Card), not on the main mamory of the device, I have a folder: Program Files on my SD card (Storrage Card), where my skype is installed. If you have done the same thing, you have to extract the audioswitch.exe in the folder Skype, where Skype is installed, so Skype instalation files and extracted files would be in the same folder. Then log in Skype and do the eco test…Enjoy

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