Skype Video Chat Now Works on Android Phones (but Probably Not Yours)

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At last, Skype’s Android app supports video calling, but it’s only available on four phones for now.

Video calling works over Wi-Fi and 3G, and is supported on the HTC Desire S, Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro and Google Nexus S. The common thread among these phones is that they all run Android 2.3, but a Skype representative told me that the company’s working to make video chat available on a wider range of devices shortly after launch.

In theory, Skype video chat for Android is a big deal. While other video calling services such as Qik and Fring can connect Android users with other smartphones, Skype is unique in that it also offers desktop software, allowing phone users and PC users to video chat together.

(READ: Fring Brings Four-Way Video Chat to iPhone, Android)

The only other service with this feature is Google’s own video chat, but it’s only available on Android versions 2.3 and higher. An Android app called Vtok (also available for iPhone) promises to bring Google video calling to earlier versions of Android, but it’s also not supported on all devices.

So right now, the video chat situation on Android devices is kind of messy, with older versions of the Android software left behind by Google and many phones and tablets unsupported by Skype. We’ve seen this kind of fragmentation in other apps recently: Netflix and Hulu Plus both launched on a limited number of handsets.

On the bright side, eventually most Android phones will run version 2.3-or-higher, Skype will support more handsets, and these video chat fragmentation issues should work themselves out. For now, however, calling a PC-bound friend with video can still be a big headache.

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