Skype for iPad is available in the Apple App Store.

iPhone users have been able to take advantage of free phone- and video calls via Skype for some time now. The Skype iPad app is a little different, containing a redesigned interface and full-screen video calling - which makes sense given the iPad's huge display. Earlier today Skype released the iPad app 'prematurely', removed it, apologised, and then republished the - presumably - final version.

Skype is a VoIP service that allows users to make free calls to other Skype users over Wi-Fi and 3G networks. It works from Windows, Apple and Linux PCs, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian smartphones, and the iPhone. And now iPad users can enjoy Skype's combination of free calls and video calling, and paid-for premium services. The Skype for iPad app is free to install, and uses the same log in details as other Skype access services.

Of course, when calling iPad to iPad, FaceTime offers built-in video calls. But Skype has better picture and sound quality than FaceTime, and unlike FaceTime it will work over 3G. Given that Skype calling over 3G from the iPhone is a very hit-and-miss affair, it is perhaps understandible that Apple disabled this feature, but it is present in Skype which will be an advantage for some.

The Skype iPad app allows users to call non-Skype phonelines, and treat their tablets as, in essence, large mobile phones. You can use Skype for IM, too.

The 16MB download works in  English, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. It is compatible only with Apple iPad devices, and requires iOS 4.0 or later.

On 10 May 2011, Microsoft bought Skype Communications for around $8.5 billion.