First look: Skype for iPad released -- big-screen video calls

By danwarne, August 2 2011
First look: Skype for iPad released -- big-screen video calls

Update

Skype has abruptly pulled its Skype for iPad app from the iTunes Store, only hours after the long-awaited program made its online debut.

If you didn't get a chance to download it, here are our own screenshots and hands-on notes from using the app.

The bottom line? While it's certainly no 'FaceTime-killer', Skype for the iPad has about everything you'd expect from this upsized version of Skype for iPhone, including better quality video calls.

Previous

The just-released Skype for iPad – available free of charge today in the iTunes Store (Australia | US) – aims to take full advantage of the iPad's big screen for video calls and the inbuilt cameras of the iPad 2.

Unlike the original Skype for iPhone app, this iPad-optimised app runs full screen.

The contacts page has become a scrollable set of thumbnails, which works reasonably well if all your contacts have set a picture for their Skype account, but looks a bit clunky if they haven't.

It can also switch between the front and back camera on the iPad 2 so that the whole tablet can be used as a quasi video camera -- with the rear camera recording the video and the front of the iPad serving as an oversized viewfinder.

(Owners of an original iPad can also run the new version of Skype but of course they'll only be able to receive incoming video, as the first edition iPad doesn't have a camera.)

Here's the publicity-supplied photo of how Skype for the iPad is supposed to look in an ideal world:

And here's the real life equivalent (my contact names are blurred out for their privacy):

The history mode lets you see a complete history of your recent chats and calls.

As we found with Skype for iPhone, video calls aren't exactly comparable in quality to the PC and Mac version of Skype, let alone Apple's own FaceTime app. Even using a fast Wi-Fi connection at both ends, the calls can be quite blurry.

However, Skype says it has improved the quality of the video calls from Skype for iPhone -- the new version can do VGA quality video (640x480 pixels) at 15 frames per second.


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