There are some apps that we consider core to the smartphone experience. Some that bring you a service, regardless of platform, that makes your life easier. Whether it be for work or play, Skype is one such app.

Skype for Windows Phone 7 was one of the first things we noted was missing when the new operating system launched. Windows Phone 7 has changed a fair amount in that time, as have the apps it offers. Now we have a beta app and while we wouldn't say it's been worth the wait (which has been debilitating), we like what we see. So, it's no surprise what today's App Of The Day is.

Skype for Windows Phone 7 beta

Windows Phone 7

Skype for Windows Phone brings the OS into line with other smartphone platforms like Android and iOS in letting you indulge in some cross-platform video chat and messaging, without the worry of not being able to connect with friends and family on closed systems like Apple's FaceTime.

We use Skype a lot here at Pocket-lint, so it's a welcome sight to be able to bring those WP7 users into the mix. The app itself is nicely designed and we have to say that, set alongside iOS and Android, the design is cleaner and nicer to navigate.

It feels like a proper WP7 app, as you don't have to spend your time opening menus to navigate your way around as you do on the Android version. In most cases you just have to swipe across the page to get to your different areas - from contacts to conversations - for example.

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In a call, you can swipe from the video call to access messaging, so you can send text through to the person you're talking to, or view their profile. We can't find an option to send files (as you get on Android), but as this is a beta, that's not to say it won't be added in the future. 

We tested it on the Nokia Lumia 800, which was the only Windows Phone 7 handset we had in the office at the time (although we've also been hands-on using the Nokia Lumia 900). The downside of this particular model becomes instantly obvious and that's the lack of a front-facing camera.

If you want do conduct a video conversation with your friends you'll need that camera. We were perfectly able to make the call and see our man on the end of the line, but obviously there was no video feed coming through for him to look at.

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It's also really easy to get back to your messages, as the persistent icon in the top right-hand corner shows you how many conversations have unread messages in them.  

Our test calls proved to be good quality over Wi-Fi and the app works over 3G too. Even though it is a beta, we've found it to be stable as we've been using over the past few hours.

However, we've also found that the app doesn't run in the background, so once you exit you're out of the conversation and in line with that, there's no form of notifications or live tile support.

We've been told that Skype is destined to be a fully baked-in part of Windows Phone, but we're guessing that the actual app area will be the same as it is here. When it arrives at native level, we're sure you'll get the live tile support and other fun that Windows Phone 7 offers.

For now though, it's great to be able to fire up Skype for Windows Phone as and when you need it and an app that's instantly won us over.