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Skype brings video calls to iPhone, iPod, iPad

Skype on Thursday made its first foray into video calls on mobile telephones, launching a new application for users of Apple's iPhone as well as the iPod music player and the iPad tablet computer.

The latest version of Skype, available on Apple's online boutique the App Store, takes advantage of the latest iPhones and iPod music players being equipped with front-facing cameras to offer the video calls.

Skype is a popular software programme that allows computer users to bypass telecommunications companies by routing calls through the Internet.

While previous versions of Skype allowed some mobile phone users to make voice calls, this is the first time mobile phone users will be able to join computer users in making video calls.

The latest iPhone 4, iPod Touches and iPads will be able to make video calls using both Wi-Fi Internet hotspots and third-generation (3G) mobile networks.

Mobile operators in some countries restrict the use of Skype and similar software that allows users to avoid expensive call charges, but the Luxembourg-based company said its previous version of Skype was nevertheless one of the top five free applications for Apple products.

In addition to making free calls to other Skype users, it offers deeply discounted rates to fixed and mobile phones.

Apple's FaceTime also allows iPhone 4 users to make video calls, but only to other iPhone 4 users and users of its Macintosh computers.

Fring, another free programme, allows video calls on iPhones as well as those using the Android operating system and Nokia phones, plus voice calls to fixed phones.