Skype has officially announced the availability of its BlackBerry 10 app, out initially for Q10 devices, which means not many people will have access to it, since the Q10 doesn’t ship until the beginning of May. As you my have seen from my review, I do have access to a Q10 currently, and the Skype app is one of the ones that I’ve been testing alongside the device itself. The good news is, the app provides does indeed provide access to Skype VoIP and chat services. The bad news is, it does so with a bare minimum of elegance resulting in a painful UX.
Users of Skype for Android will find the app familiar, since it’s one of the many apps that’s actually an Android port running on BB10 via a virtualization wrapper. In many cases, that arrangement works fine, delivering a perfectly functional app (see Songza, for instance). But in the case of Skype, the non-native nature of the app, combined with the already sub-par Android version, results in an experience that is probably best left unexperienced by most.
The issues are mostly around lag, unresponsive taps, chats that take forever to update and show you their history, and notifications that seem only loosely tied to actual in-app events, and which also ignore your device audio settings. With both media volume and notification audio turned all the way off, Skype was still making its trademark new message notification noise, even when no new messages seemed to be coming in. When the app is closed, these ghost notifications persist, even for a little while after I’ve actually gone so far as to sign out within the app itself and closed the app in the multi-tasking view on BB10.
As mentioned, it works, allowing you to conduct calls and send and receive messages. But if you’re a heavy Skype user (we use it at work for one-on-one communication with fair frequency), you’re gonna have a bad time. This version is admittedly beta, but it’s a perfect example of why, while it may solve some of BlackBerry’s app issues, Android porting isn’t a great long-term solution.