The official Apple iPad application for the voice over IP service Skype officially launched after appearing briefly on Apple's App Store on Monday. The application was then quickly taken down, with Skype claiming that it was launched prematurely. However, the free application is currently available via the App Store, and includes features such as the ability to make video calls with the front and back cameras and instant message contacts.
"To ensure your best Skype experience, [we temporarily] removed Skype for iPad which went live prematurely today," the company posted on its Twitter account early this morning. "We know you've been eagerly awaiting Skype for iPad and apologize for the inconvenience."
The company launched the original Skype application for iPhones in 2009, and was one of the top five free iPhone applications in 2010 according to Apple. The service lets users choose a pay-as-you-go account with Skype Credit, or get a monthly subscription and send text messages to mobile phones for low rates. An SMS (Short Message Service) text message can be sent by opening a contact and selecting "Send SMS" or by opening the dial pad, typing in the number you wish to reach and then typing your message. For the iPad version of the application, users need enough room for the 16.3MB download, which requires iOS 4.0 or later.
"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," Skype's head of product management Rick Osterloh wrote on the company's blog. "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."
Osterloh noted Skype contacts are now displayed in a grid on Skype for iPad, showing large avatar photos, which he said makes it easier to find contacts and conversations. A few weeks ago, Skype rolled out the beta version of the Skype Support Network, an online community where customers can learn about Skype from experts, find answers and share information through topic-specific discussion forums. The community is available through Skype.com, and starting this week, is also available from Skype's Facebook account page.
"We think there is a big appetite for information about Skype, and the Skype Support Network was created in direct response to that," said Jennifer Caukin, Skype's head of social media. "Having this information available within our Support Network and extended to various social-media channels, such as Facebook, is part of our efforts to engage customers and help them access information they need."
In June, Skype released an updated version of its Skype for Android application, Skype for Android 2.0. With the new version, users will be able to make and receive free one-to-one video calls over Skype between their Android phone and other Skype contacts on the iPhone, Mac, Windows PCs as well as TVs.