Skype is one of the programs I use most in my life. When I got the iPad I was excited to use it there as well. But then I discovered that there was no Skype for iPad. Disappointed, I downloaded Skype for iPhone and did the best I could with it, but using it was far from exciting.
What was exciting was the day Skype released their official iPad app (and about time it was too). I hurried to download it, curious to see what it was like. If you’re still hesitating, or you’ve just been lazy, here’s a quick tour of the new Skype for iPad.
Tired of this?
If you are, head over to the app store and download Skype for iPad. The first thing you will want to look at when you launch Skype is your information, of course. Tap the small thumbnail at the top left to access it. Here is where you can choose your status, change your picture, see your Skype balance and so on.
If you want to change your profile picture from here, tap the camera icon on the top left. From here you can delete the existing picture or choose something you have saved on the iPad.
You can also easily add contacts through the iPad app. Tap the plus icon on the top right on the main screen and start searching. Adding people is exactly as it is on the regular Skype, and when I added my second user I got the alert immediately and everything went really smoothly.
The main screen will show you all your contacts, each with its own thumbnail and name. I looked for a way to view them in a list like I’m used to, but this option does not exist as far as I could see. For now I will settle on this view.
Tap the “Tags” button if you want to sort your contacts a little bit. You can view only online contacts, only saved phone numbers, only Skype contacts and so on.
You can also easily search within your contacts. This is useful especially since I was pretty much stuck with the thumbnail view in which finding people is a bit hard. The search is real-time, so just start typing and the matching contacts will show up.
The bar on the left side is the history bar. You will get thumbnails for your recent events, which you can access by tapping the icons. By tapping the clock icon you can view a list of all older history items – the ones that are not recent enough to warrant their own little icon. Note that on landscape view this looks a bit different, and in addition to thumbnails you can see the names and statuses of the contacts the history belongs to.
But Skype is really about making calls. To make one, choose your contact and access the call screen. From here you can call this contact’s Skype or regular phone, chat with them or send them a text message. You can also see the contact’s information and picture in a bigger format. If you have an iPad 2 (which I don’t), you can also initiate a video call.
They didn’t skimp with this app, and even the screen you get while making the call is pretty nice and resembles the one I’m used to from the regular version. Here you also can see what the history bar looks like when the iPad is held in landscape mode.
If the other side answers with video, the conversation automatically goes into full screen and you get a video display. Here’s an example of a conversation I had with one of my cats.
If you tap the screen during the call, you’ll get an icon bar at the bottom. Here you can end the call, mute your microphone, chat or exit full screen mode.
Chatting in full screen is nice, but the other option is also convenient. Using this view you can see your contact, but also do other things such as chat, send text messages and generally have fun.
As expected, you can also access the dialing pad to make calls to regular phones. From here you can also send text messages to mobile phones.
If you exit the app in a middle of a call, or even put your iPad to sleep by pressing the power button, the call stays on. This means that you can do whatever you want with your iPad while holding a conversation, and you can also save battery by shutting down the screen, putting it aside and just using audio.
While the call is on, the top bar will turn red and remind you that you’re still in the middle of a call. So next time you hit the home button to exit Skype and forget that this doesn’t hang up, you’ll be reminded not to say anything rude just yet. You’re still on the air!
To answer the question I presented in the title – yes, it was worth waiting for. The audio and video quality were good (on the same wi-fi network, anyway) and usability was simple and smooth. I do miss the contact list view, and I’m waiting for them to add a screen sharing option. Now that would be awesome.
What was your experience with Skype for iPad? Any features you miss? Do share in the comments.