Ahmed Elbatrawy

Skype app for PS Vita announced

Skype will also run in

(CNN) — The PlayStation Vita is extending its reach into video and voice calling with the release of a Skype app for the mobile gaming device.

The free app is expected to be available through the PlayStation store Tuesday in North America and Wednesday in Europe and Asia. It will work for both the Vita’s 3G and Wi-Fi only models. The Skype app will use the Vita’s front and rear cameras for video calling.

The app will also run in “background mode,” so users can pause a game, and then take a call. There is no functionality at this time to continue playing a game while taking a call.

Since it runs in “background mode,” Skype will also alert users to calls when the Vita is in sleep mode. No word yet on how it will affect the device’s five to six hours of battery time.

On the Skype blog, legendary gamer Fatal1ty (Johnathan Wendel) shows off the features of the new app.

The PS Vita already has voice chat and text chat through its built-in Party application. However, developer Shuhei Yoshida, president of SCE Worldwide Studios, told CNN in February that there were restrictions to that voice chat by broadband providers (only one person can be on a 3G connection).

“The Vita isn’t a phone,” he said.

It appears that the Skype app may be trying to change that. Do gamers really want to be bothered during a “Unit 13″ gun battle by a call from a friend? Or is this a partial admission by Sony that a dedicated games-only device may not be what users want?

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Ahmed Elbatrawy