iPhone and iPad users can now be charged by the minute for Wi-Fi access, thanks to the expanded Skype Access service which now includes fondle-slabs and Jesus mobes as well as computers.
Skype already offers per-minute access to various Wi-Fi networks around the world, with prices starting at three pence a minute, but that has been limited to Windows and Mac users. Now there's an iOS app allowing everyone to share in the world of per-minute billing.
The service needs iOS 4.1, with multitasking – got to have a background task counting the minutes – and knocks the pennies from the user's Skype credit account at a rate dependent on where in the world the user is (and on whose Wi-Fi network the user is camped).
You won't know the rate until you connect, unless you've a good memory for numbers. Skype will tell you the prevailing rate for each hotspot operator, but those vary widely. In the UK the Skype user will pay 11 pence a minute on a BT Openzone point, but only 8 pence for Fon and the rate drops to 3 pence if you can pick up one of the nine Tomizone hotspots in capital.
Skype reckons that paying by the minute makes more sense when you just want to check email or download the news, and the company makes great play around the lack of data cap. We've not paid by time for mobile data use since the very early days of the mobile internet when dial-up was the model being copied, but if you're already using Skype and need some quick access then perhaps its time to start thinking that way again. ®