This overnight drama, telegraphed on Twitter, followed an earlier misstep in June when a video demo of Skype for iPad leaked out on YouTube. Rick Osterloh, Skype's head of consumer product and design, made the product launch official with a post on the Skype corporate blog Tuesday.
Although an iOS version of Skype targeted at the iPhone has been available since January 2010, this is the first release to take advantage of the iPad's larger screen, and it works with the screen oriented in either portrait or landscape mode. The software can also use both of cameras on the iPad 2, allowing users to toggle between showing themselves talking and showing the world around them.
Other features include:
-- A grid display for contacts, with a large avatar for each person to make contacts easier to navigate.
-- Instant messaging, during calls or separately.
-- SMS texting to contacts or to any mobile phone using the dial pad.
Other videoconferencing apps for the iPad include Fring, which stands out for its group video-chat capabilities, and Apple's own Facetime. Skype has the advantage of a large installed base and claims to have more than 170 million users worldwide, offering connectivity to iPhones, Android devices, Windows, Macs, and some televisions, as well as the ability to make voice calls to landline phones for a fee.
Skype for iPad is a free download from the iTunes store.
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