Recently Skype, the wunderkind of the cheap internet phone service (until Google Voice is global), rolled out Skype to Go numbers for all of their paid subscription members. The Skype to Go number is a phone number you can call from your assigned mobile phone to make, generally cheaper, calls abroad when you aren’t near an Internet connection. So not as cheap as calling abroad from Skype on your computer, but pretty handy nonetheless, especially when you’re using an iPhone and you can’t use the handy Skype App to call because there’s no available wireless.
The Skype to Go number is a local number, and consequently will be included within your phone plan’s normal monthly minute allowance. For most of us with OTT monthly plans this means an effectively free outbound call, with just Skype charges to pay for connecting to the other end. Just call the Skype to Go number, then type in the number you want to call (’00’ + the countr code, then the number) followed by a hash, and voila! Of course the trouble is that there is not yet a handy Skype to Go app, or extension to the Skype app, that lets you easily call any contact in your address book, which means typing in numbers from memory is an old skool skill most of us have lost.
There is a handy workaround though for numbers you call abroad regularly. Simply create a new ‘Skype to Go’ number on that contact, and cut and paste your Skype to Go number into the field, followed by two pauses (press the ‘+*#’ button to see that option), then the person’s international number, and don’t forget that final ‘#’. Save the number, then give it a go. You should hear the polite Skype voice saying ‘Please dial your number’ and then shortly after your phone will magically start to type in the number and off you go.
This is a life saver, but not the only option. You can also use one of the many card calling apps on the iPhone and set up your Skype to Go number as a card there. The only issue I’ve found with this approach is that for some security reason iPhone apps aren’t allowed to embed the ‘#’ character when they make a call, which means you’ll have to manually press the ‘#’ key after the app initiates the call. For someone with a lot of international contacts to call this might be a preferred option.