All signs have been pointing to this release for a few days now, but we'll admit: we expected Skype to wait until CES next week to pull the covers off what could become its crown jewel service over the coming months. Skype's official iOS client has finally sprouted the ability to make video calls, allowing iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and fourth-generation iPod touch users to share real-time video amongst each other and users of Skype's Windows, Mac, and Linux clients along with the ASUS Videophone (obviously, 3GS users won't have the convenience of a front-facing camera, but they'll still be able to broadcast video from the rear-facing one). Additionally, you'll be able to receive video from others if you're using an iPad or a third-generation iPod touch. The service is free and works over both WiFi and 3G -- and considering Skype's existing PC footprint, we'd argue this stands a very real chance of putting the hurt on FaceTime usage. No word on when Skype will be making video-capable clients available for Android or other mobile platforms, but Skype says that there'll be "plenty more" announcements in Vegas next week, so we wouldn't be surprised.

Update: So we just gave 3.0 a spin, calling iPhone-to-iPhone (both WiFi), iPhone-to-desktop (both WiFi), and again iPhone-to-iPhone (both 3G). The first two worked great, although the desktop camera produced better quality. As for the worst-case scenario, 3G-to-3G video calling, well... we wouldn't recommend it unless absolutely necessary. Video after the break, and be sure to note the battery life -- after about 10 minutes of use, we dropped from 66 percent to 61.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

Skype video calling for iPhone is official, available today

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Skype Brings Video Calling to iPhones

Share the Moments that Matter Most over 3G and WiFi

30 DECEMBER, 2010 – Luxembourg – Skype today announced the new version of its iPhone application that brings video calling to millions of mobile users around the globe over both 3G and WiFi networks. Available to download from the Apple App Store today, the new Skype for iPhone App allows iPhone , iPad and iPod touch owners to make and/or receive free* Skype video calls for the first time. Users can now see their family, friends and colleagues around the world while talking to them. With approximately 25 million concurrent users logged into Skype at any given time**, the new Skype for iPhone makes it easier than ever to share moments wherever you are.

Video calling significantly enhances the user experience of Skype for iPhone, which is one of the top five free iPhone apps in 2010 according to Apple. Now, users can make and receive free Skype-to-Skype calls, call mobiles and landlines around the world at very low rates, and now share more moments together with video on Skype for iPhone.

"With video calling representing approximately 40% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes for the first six months of 2010, our users have been eager to get Skype video calling on their mobile phones," said Neil Stevens, general manager of Skype's consumer business. "By bringing video to mainstream users at their home or work via their desktops, on the go with their mobiles, or into their living room via their TV, Skype has made it possible for millions of people to share video moments wherever they are."

A video call evolves communication beyond transactional experiences to a shared experience where people can share any occasion with others wherever they are. Whether this is a military father watching the birth of his child while deployed abroad, loved ones communicating via sign language or work colleagues collaborating around the globe – the opportunities are endless.

Users can place Skype video calls with their iPhone over both a 3G data connection* or WiFi. The new Skype for iPhone app is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPod touch 4th generation with i0S 4.0 or above. Video receiving capabilities are available on the iPod touch 3rd generation and iPad. Calls can be made between devices using the new Skype for iPhone app and desktops including Skype for Windows 4.2 and above, Skype for Mac 2.8 and above, Skype for Linux and ASUS Videophone.

The Skype for iPhone application is available for free download from the App Store or at www.skype.com/go/iphone


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Skype video calling for iPhone is official, available now (update: hands-on)