The wait is over, as today Skype for iPad is now available for download in the iTunes App Store. Skype released an iPad-optimized version of its popular Internet-phone and video-chat app, and judging by early consumer reviews on iTunes – there are already hundreds – the app is getting great reviews. Some details: The Skype software is free, and clocks in at about 16 MBs. You can use either a 3G or a Wi-Fi connection to call both landlines and cellphones, or to chat with other iPad and desktop users. Rick Osterloh, the video chat company’s head of product management, wrote that the iPad-specific version is “beautifully designed and optimized for the iPad. It offers the best of both worlds for users who want a larger Skype experience, on-the-go.” He continued: “Not only does Skype for iPad feature an interface that takes advantage of the large screen, but there are a number of additional iPad-optimized features found in this new app.” These include optimized two-way video calling, enabling users to connect with 170 million other Skype users around the world. Instant messaging during a video call is now possible. Viewing contacts has become simpler – they’re laid out in a grid format, displaying large avatar photos. Navigation has been improved, making it simpler to search recent conversations and history. The introduction of “simple SMS texting” means you can just tap on a contact and select “send SMS,” or open the dial pad and punch in the appropriate number before typing your message. Calls to landlines and cell phones are possible, with Skype credit, and the new app works over both Wi-Fi and 3G networks.
Skype for iPad is free and requires iOS4 or higher to run.
So how does the iPad version of Skype stack up? Well, over at Venture Beat, Sean Ludwig takes a spin on the new app, and likes what he sees, mostly. He found that the program occasionally seizes up when a user tries to switch between the contracts list and other options; there was also some lag time on new contact requests. But resolution! Let’s talk about that resolution. The video quality is very good, Ludwig writes – even better than FaceTime.