Rating: Skype app doesn’t migrate over from Android
A loyal GoMobile News reader recently acquired a RIM PlayBook tablet from her local electronics retail outlet in the UK. She wanted a low cost tablet and the Playbook fits neatly inside her handbag [pocketbook]. Imagine her anger when she discovered that the PlayBook doesn’t possess an official Skype app. What’s the point of providing a front facing video camera with your tablet if it isn’t capable of supporting the world’s most popular video conferencing system, was her reasoning? And she’s got a good point. The PlayBook was conceived as a useful adjunct to a BlackBerry smartphone and it shows. Hopefully, in 2013 RIM will be offering a new tablet which is designed to go head to head with the market leaders – like the iPad.
At least RIM has taken a step in the right direction with version 2.0 of the PlayBook OS which now offers support for Android apps.
In an ideal world, of course, PlayBook owners would be able to download the existing Android version of the official Skype app and run it in the tablet’s Android compatibility box.
Unfortunately, life isn’t so simple. First of all, someone somewhere (who knows a bit about programming) needs to convert the existing Android app into a usable PlayBook one.
In techspeak this means taking the original Android APK [Android PacKage] file – which is a variant of the JAR format, and converting that into a BAR [Blackberry] format.
Now if you scour the Net, you’ll find that many PlayBook fans have already done the hard work for you and produced a BAR version of popular files.
This applies to the official Skype APK but guess what? GoMobile News has searched high and low for a BAR file which works properly – with no joy.
The best we could do is to find a Skype Beta version which supports the IM (instant messaging) facility within Skype – but nothing else.
In reality you’d be better off paying for a native PlayBook app which handles a whole host of IM formats including Skype.
Of course, the conspiracists amongst you suspect that the lack of an official PlayBook app is down to the fact that Microsoft acquired Skype back in 2011.
The truth is, however, that Skype only runs on BlackBerry smartphones if your mobile operator decides to offer it. (See our previous story here).
Presently only Verizon in the USA and Telkomsel (in Indonesia) seem to have bothered to do so.
In the meantime we are going to have to wait for someone to crack the full Android version.