Skype for iPad now availableSkype (news, site) has grown to be the darling of social media news lately, with Microsoft's US$ 8.5 billion acquisition and the newly-implemented tight integration with Facebook. One thing has been lacking for some time now, though, and that's the much-anticipated official app for the iPad. That just changed, with Skype's official iPad application being released.

Skype disappointed iPad users when the application went live prematurely on August 1, just to be pulled out shortly thereafter. Skype explained on Twitter that the launch was premature, and that it was still working on refining the software for general launch. Just a few hours after, Skype announced that it's official -- the iPad application is online, and is available via the App Store.

Skype for iPad Video Chat

Better Video-Calling With Bigger Screen

While Skype has been available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, the user interface is generally limited by the small screen size. As such, while the app has long since supported text chats, voice calls and video conferencing with other Skype users on different computer and mobile platforms, the iPad application brings the benefit of a bigger-screen interface to mobile users.

Skype for iPad 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. The large iPad screen is perfect for bringing Skype video calls to life, in either landscape or portrait view, and because it is on the iPad, Skype video calls can be made at the beach, in a car or even lying on a couch."

Skype's iPad application highlights the following features:

  • Two-way video calling -- Skype lets iPad users videoconference with millions of Skype users on different platforms. The application takes advantage of the iPad 2's dual-camera setup, letting users either videochat as with Facetime, or show what they're seeing through the rear-facing camera.
  • Instant messaging and SMS -- Users can send IMs while on a call or videochat. The iPad application also supports SMS sending, compatible with almost all carriers around the world.
  • Better contacts view -- Skype displays contacts on a grid with the iPad application, with larger avatar photos. This way, you can find your contacts (and conversations) more easily.
  • Improved navigation -- Skype for the iPad gives users an improved interface, with buttons for history and contacts navigation.

Multi-Platform Video Chat Over Data Networks

Skype for the iPad overcomes the inherent limitations that Apple's own FaceTime has, which are WiFi-only connectivity and platform support. Skype works over both WiFi and mobile data networks, which means users with 3G-enabled iPad 2 can videochat with Skype users while away from WiFi networks. Skype users can also videochat across platforms, and not only with those on Apple computers and devices. Skype supports Android, Symbian, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Windows, Mac and Linux.

Excited about the Skype iPad app? You can get it now for free from the iTunes App Store.