Skype for PS Vita was released to the PlayStation Store earlier today, falling alongside other third-party apps like Facebook and Netflix and marking a notable expansion to the device's voice, text, and video chat capabilities. While the app offers many of the same features found on other platforms, it has been custom tailored to match the Vita's unique interface and take advantage of the device's gorgeous five-inch OLED display and built-in cameras.
The app is available as a free and fairly lightweight 9.2MB download, making for a quick and simple install. The initial boot up takes about 10 seconds, which is par for the course when it comes to Vita software, but remarkably slower than iOS and Android versions of the app. Those new to Skype will have to use a PC or Mac to sign up for the service, as the app only allows for username and password entry for existing users. Once logged in, you're taken to your contact list, which is displayed in a grid of icons that unfortunately can't be viewed as a list or otherwise sorted. There's also no means of searching for a contact outside of quick jumps to certain letter groupings, and you can't add or remove new users to your friends list from within the app.
The app works over both Wi-Fi and 3G, including video calling. Over Wi-Fi, performance is decent, though compression is persistent and there are times when audio will drop and the framerates stutter. Audio calls over 3G are fairly stable, but video is almost unusable. There are also noticeable latency issues with words falling out of sync with the video on-screen. Outgoing calls are limited to a single simultaneous contact, but the app supports incoming group calls. In terms of input, the app can be used with the built-in microphone, Bluetooth devices, and wired headsets with integrated microphones. While you can receive invitations to group calls on your PS Vita, the app doesn't allow you to organize or send invitations of your own.
Multitasking is supported in a limited capacity, allowing users to remain signed in while playing games and browsing the home screen. Leaving the app during a video or audio call, however, will disconnect you from the other user. If the app is active in the background while you're playing a game or at the home screen, incoming calls or messages will appear in the notifications tray. We also encountered a few odd bugs, such as incoming contacts displaying the wrong icon and or failing to notify us of the call entirely.
Overall, we'd categorize the app as sufficient for basic communication but far from the ideal Skype experience. While certainly a welcomed addition to Sony's handheld, Skype for PS Vita can't compare to desktop or even smartphone and tablet versions of the software.