Skype released its official iPad app earlier this week, offering iPad and iPad 2 users a way to chat by text, voice or video with their Skype pals.
We took some time to test the app on our iPad 2 earlier today and found the app lives up to most of its promises, offering a robust experience.
Using the app, iPad users can connect with their Skype contacts and use the iPad as a bonafide telephone. We were able to make calls to outside numbers, video chat with desktop users and video chat with Skype for iPhone users.
The interface is more similar to Skype for Mac, rather than Skype for iPhone. Surprisingly, the design that looks clumsy and overlarge on the desktop makes sense on the iPad.
The ability to chat via text while doing video chat is a great — and much needed — feature.
Houston, We Need Bandwidth
Our only criticism of the app is that to work well, it needs a strong data connection. Skype might say that video chat works over 3G — and if you are using a particularly strong network, that might be true. Still, in our tests (using our admittedly terrible office Wi-Fi), there was a significant lag in video signal unless the connection was strong.
This delay, which could be as much as five seconds, would make Skype virtually unusable. In other words, don’t try video chat unless you have lots of bandwidth.
As for video quality – we were impressed. The video signal coming from the iPad 2′s front-facing camera looked great on a desktop or iPhone screen and video from other users looked good — provided we had a strong connection — on the iPad screen.
Voice calls over Wi-Fi sounded fine to us, though we’re not sure it’s any better than what you might get on a 2G cell phone. You can also make calls with Skype-enabled TV and Blu-ray players.
All in all, we’re impressed by what Skype has put together. The app isn’t perfect — a way to share files like a photo or text document — would be a great addition.
Making a Call
Your icon and your caller's icon appear on the screen.
In portrait mode, you can see the icons of your recent and online contacts.
In landscape mode, contact names are also visible.
Account info is visible at any time by tapping your user icon.
Video chat in portrait.
Video chat in landscape.
Video chat in landscape.
Text Chat View
Contact Home Screen
The home screen shows your contacts listed in a grid.
Home Screen with Account Info
You can send Skype requests in the app.
Add a Contact
You can add a contact by tapping the "+" button and searching by name or Skype name.