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How-To

How to Make Voice Calls from an iPod touch 2G [UPDATED]

There are millions iPod touches (2G) in customer hands. Many of those users would like to be able to make phone calls, direct to land lines and cell phones, on the device, and now it's possible using Wi-Fi. This HOWTO explains how to do it, step by step. In fact, it's very easy and inexpensive.

Here's what you'll need:

  1. A Skype Account. (It's free.)
  2. Purchase of Skype Credit. (Pay as you go. 2 cents/min)
  3. The Skype app from the Apple App Store. (It's free.)
  4. For iPod touch only: A compatible headset/ear bud set with microphone.
  5. A Wi-Fi connection.
  6. iPod touch 2G

Note: this HOWTO also applies to all iPhones, but because the iPhone has a built in speaker and microphone, earbuds with a microphone aren't required.

Step #1. The preferred way to sign up is to go to Skype.com and download the Skype app for your Mac or PC if you haven't already done so. When you launch the app, it'll step you through setting up a free account. (You can use that to make free calls in the Internet to other Skype users. If you've done this before, you're all set.) Once you've registered and have a user name and password, go back to Skype.com and select the "Shop" tab shown below.

Skype Shop

Skype.com: Shop

After clicking on "Buy Skype Credit," you'll be asked to sign in with your account name and password.

Skype signin

Sign in to your account

At this point you'll be walked through the process of buying a US$10.00 "Skype Credit." It's a good idea to have a PayPal account because payment options are limited. Even if you select PayPal, Skype will ask for a secondary credit card, where options are better (AMEX, MC, VISA) for a backup in case the PayPal account becomes depleted. This transaction is, of course, encrypted.

After you complete the process, you'll receive an e-mail at your specified e-mail address that your Skype account is enabled with US$10 credit.

Step #2. Go to the App Store on your iPhone or iPod touch 2G and do a search for Skype. This is the app you'll be looking for. After you've downloaded, and you'll want it on the home page, launch it and log in with your new Skype account name/password. It will, of course, recognize that your account has Skype Credit and you're ready to make calls to land lines or cell phones at the rate of US 2.1 cents/minute in the U.S.

Skype Dialer

Skype app dialer

Note: The iPhone and iPod touch don't have the ability (yet) to come to the foreground when a regular, free Skype connection is made. You can still use Skype for free calls, but you must arrange ahead of time for both people to have their Skype app running and waiting. That's awkward. The procedure in this HOWTO bypasses that and allows you to call anyone's land line or cell phone any time.

The Skype app on the iPhone or iPod touch 2G also has an information page that shows your remaining credit.

Skype Info

Skype app:My Info

Now, all you need to do, assuming you have a Wi-Fi connection, is to insert a headset with a mic (like the kind that comes with the iPhone, available in Apple retail stores) into your iPod touch, bring up Skype's dialer, and chat away!

Step #3. There is no step three! (As Jeff Goldblum used to say.) However, if you want to keep track of your usage in more detail, Skype keeps a detailed log of all your calls. Just log back into Skype with your favorite Browser and click on Your Account.

Skyoe Account

Skype Account Page (some info obscured for privacy)

Note the link at the bottom to "View Call History." If you click on that, you can see every call you've made and the duration.

Skype Call History

Skype: Complete Call History

This all works because Skype uses a technology called Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) which is just digital voice over Wi-Fi instead of over the AT&T 3G network. Both use radio technology -- they're just different frequencies used for voice and data.

Finally, if you're doing this on an iPhone, you can elect to assign a caller ID to your Skype calls that's the same, most likely, as your AT&T iPhone number. That way, people who have you in their iPhone address book will recognize you when you call -- and call you back later, if need be, on your iPhone AT&T number. Setting up Caller ID is done from the Skype account settings and takes about 24 hours to activate.

If you have both an iPod touch 2G and an iPhone, you can install and use the Skype app on both and use them interchangeably.

Now, when you're out and about, say at a Starbucks or a friend's house with Wi-Fi access, you'll be able to make inexpensive, pay-as-you-go calls to anywhere with your iPod touch 2G. This is also helpful if you live in a rural area with poor AT&T reception for your iPhone, but you have a home filled with Wi-Fi thanks to DSL, Cable modem, etc.

This is a lot of service for a start up of US$10.00.

[This HOWTO was updated with additional information from Skype.  The Skype app requires any iPhone or an iPod touch 2G.]

11 comments from the community.

You can post your own below.

WTFrank said:

Great Article!

“..the procedure in this HOWTO bypasses that and allows you to call anyone’s land line or cell phone any time.”

Could you activate the HOWTO link for the directions?

Thank you,

   Quote

John Martellaro said:

Mr. Frank,

As we discussed, the phrase “this HOWTO” does indeed refer to the article itself.

-JM

   Quote

Jerry said:

Does this include 1G iPod touches, or just 2G

   Quote

powermacvt said:

You can also get a subscription that contains unlimited calling so that you don’t have to track your usage. Depending on how you use the service, this can be a very good deal.

   Quote

John Martellaro said:

Jerry:
I’m not aware of any reason why this shouldn’t apply to both 1G and 2G iPod touches.  The link in the article to the app in iTunes doesn’t differentiate.  Does need iPhone OS 2.1 or later.
-JM

   Quote

Beach Guy said:

Jerry,

This will work on a 1G phone, but only with a microphone adapter such as the Macally iVoiceIII, or the iVoicePro that plug into the dock connector, not the headphone jack.

   Quote

Beach Guy said:

Jerry,

This will work on a 1G iPod Touch, (previous post was a mistake), but only with a microphone adapter such as the Macally iVoiceIII, or the iVoicePro that plug into the dock connector, not the headphone jack.

   Quote

John Martellaro said:

I’m checking with Skype on the 1G issue. 
-JM

   Quote

JJ said:

now all we really need now is a cell phone that can create a network or ad hoc and presto you can surf and phone anywhere, any time, with an ipod touch;-)

   Quote

John Martellaro said:

A Skype representative told iPO that the app won’t work on an iPod touch 1G.  A 2G is, in fact, required. All iPhones are supported.
-JM

   Quote

James said:

I have the iPod Touch 1G and the Macally iVoice III microphone.  I also just get the OS 3.0 update.

I’m finding that the Skype app is not working.  When I place a call I can hearing ringing for a bit, but then the call connects and my audio goes dead.  When I go to end the call I can hear the hang up sound.  This doesn’t make any sense.  I’ve tested making a few calls.  The person at the other end of the line can hear me talking so I know the microphone works, but I cannot hear them.  In short, there is a bug that prevents me from hearing audio.

I thought I could plug in the Macally iVoice III for the microphone and use my headphones for audio and this was supposed to work.  That doesn’t appear to be the case.  But then several folks have posted on Amazon that they use this setup on the 1G Touch and it works.  I guess I have a different 1G Touch than everyone else.  Or maybe it worked with OS 2.2 and now doesn’t with OS 3.0.  I wish someone could help.

James

   Quote

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