It definitely seemed a little odd that Skype didn’t have a dedicated app for the iPad. Sure, the iPhone app worked, but it definitely wasn’t making good use of everything the iPad has to offer. It just seemed odd, as suddenly Skyping has become so big, it’s now considered a verb. Calling people through an online connection instead of the normal phone, or doing a video call, is now “Skyping“. Suddenly Skype has come to the party and released an app for the iPad.
Let’s take a look at how it fares.
Skyping is a way to avoid the phone calls that are limited by regular landlines or cell phones. If long distance is too expensive, or you don’t have enough minutes left, the call can always be completed via Skype. Those who have used Skype before are familiar with the process and will already have a Skype Name and Password. Those who aren’t familiar with it can either sign up at the site or via the app once it’s downloaded. The basic use of Skyping is free, and it gives you a phone number that your friends can use to contact you.
When you sign in to the Skype app for iPad, it takes you to a Home screen where you will see your contacts and most recent calls. It also allows you to make changes to your profile by clicking on your name at the top left. Contacts that are online have a green checkmark, and those that are offline have a white X.
Skype gives you an option for a test call, just so that you can check your settings and audio. You can initiate a call to see if everything is working right before you place a more important call and find it failing you when you need it the most.
The visual for the iPad app is so much better than it was for the iPhone app. It shows you your own contact image as well as the image of the person who is calling you, or who you are calling, as it works on connecting you.
You have the choice of completing your call with video, audio, or text. With the video option, it provides a larger video of the person on the other line, and a smaller video of yourself. The sound and video are off slightly, but that’s to be expected.
With the iPad 2 and its back and front cameras, instead of having the video be of yourself as you are calling, you can have it be of a person or people who are with you and facing the back of the camera. You can even switch back and forth so that everyone there can get in on the action.
If you need to discuss something in private while you’re on your call, there’s a Mute option that works either with just audio, or with the video. It displays an icon on the screen to let you know that you’re on mute.
If you want to see the person you’re talking to, yet exchange text instead of talking verbally, you can provide a video in the back, and text in the front. This could be helpful if you want to share links with the person you’re speaking to.
There is also an option to make the video full screen. If you’re not bouncing back and forth between other conversations, and are talking to just one person, this is great. The video can be so big and close, it’s like you’re really talking face-to-face.
If you decide you’re done with the video and audio and just want to have text, you can change over to that quickly enough. You can even display the text after you’ve ended your call. Even though my call ended hours ago, I can click on this contact and see what it was we were discussing during a chat. It includes a history of everything we have discussed recently.
If you are just doing an Audio call, you will only see the contact picture of the person you’re talking to. It can be a one-sided video, however, like in the picture above. I have video capabilities, but the person I’m talking to does not. In this case, she can see the video of me on her end, while I just see her picture.
It’s also possible to forward the calls that come through. If you’re offline, you can have Skype forward the call to any number. However, if you’re forwarding it to a phone that doesn’t have Skype, the person calling has to pay a premium using Skype credit. Group conference calls are available as well with Skype credit.
Because I have an iPhone with a good calling plan, I never had the need for Skype before. However, with my son headed off to college, I want to be able to use the video-calling feature. It will be the next best thing to being there. My iPhone is a 3GS, so I can’t do FaceTime on it. By using Skype on my iPad, i can get the same benefits, and I can talk to my son while he uses his computer. It’s the next best thing to being there.