So we have used Skype on the PC and Mac for years, and in the last 12 months the popularity of native Blackberry, Android and iPhone apps have driven users with greater data plans. But where does the iPad application fit into the realm of mobile communications?
iPad 2 has both a front facing and rear facing camera, and until today Face Time was the App to connect with other iPad and Mac users to video chat over WiFi. Skype on the iPad can now easily replace Face Time as the default application for video conferencing, with its key strength being you can contact users over 3G data.
After using the app on a series of iPad 1, 2, Macbook and PC’s it is clear that one of the key weaknesses of the app is the lack of image quality and high pixelation. Initially we thought that it may have been due to the low resolution front facing camera, but after switching it over to the rear facing camera, the high pixelation remained the same. All devices were on our office WiFi so it was unlikely to be a network speed issue.
Naturally we then tried the same task using FaceTime. The quality was dramatically improved with a crisper picture and faster response.
The user interface of the Skype iPad app is outstanding. With a focus around user contact cards as the centre of the application, finding a contact is quick and easy. Touching a contact card reveals a nice card-flip animation with the relevant options to contact the user by voice, video or chat.
The performance of the app and its animation on the iPad 1 was a little laggy, but the upside is that it works on iOS 5 beta.
Skype for the iPad is a great application that adds even more purpose to the iPad and the tablet market. I also believe this will be the tipping point for business people and parents thinking about buying an iPad 2, to go out and splash some cash!