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iPhone slip serves up free 3G Skype calls

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Daredevil iPhone users who've installed the latest development build of their firmware, version 3, have discovered an interesting side effect - free Skype calls over the 3G network.

Apple has never made any secret of the fact it won't allow iPhone applications to make VoIP calls over 3G connections - that would upset the network operators who, these days, are paying for the handsets. But with the newly-launched version 3 of the iPhone firmware, 9to5Mac is reporting that the blockage isn't in place for Skype.

Not that many people are using version 3; it's only available to developers, and reports indicate that it's also pretty unstable even if it does have some interesting features. Developers need early access to the firmware to make use of its capabilities, but they don't need the stability that Apple is still refining before the launch later this year.

Users of earlier versions of the OS find that when a VoIP call is triggered, using Skype or one of the alternative clients, the handset attempts to create a Wi-Fi connection and bombs out if it can't, but it seems that version 3 is less discerning.

Some have suggested this reflects a relaxation of the ban on VoIP over 3G, but with network operators paying an increasing proportion of the handset price, that seems unlikely. More probably this is something Apple will be glad to fix well before general release, so to be enjoyed until it does. ®

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