Developer: Skype Communications S.a.r.l
Price: free Download on the App Store
A few years ago, I offered English lessons via Skype to anyone wanting to improve their conversational skills. I spoke to a wide range of people, including a student from Japan, a businessmen from India and a mom in Spain. It was a lot of fun and it would have been extremely expensive had I not had Skype. Now, I use it as a business communication tool via my iPad as one of my clients has an office in Germany and another likes to use it for video conference calls.
When I first met the women who would become my wife, we "Skyped" almost daily as we were living three hours apart in the beginning. Sure, we could have just used our cell numbers, but being able to make that face-to-face contact was essential to keeping an extra level of emotional connection going between visits. The fact that it was free just made it even easier to use.
The iPad version of Skype has all of the same features as one would expect, including calling, video call and instant message. It seamlessly integrates with your Skype Credit for calling landlines and mobiles at super low rates. Even if you don't have an account, it's easy to signup directly within the app.
As for contacts, if you have an account they'll automatically be viewable on the iPad app. Adding contacts is a breeze and once they're in your contact list can be called, video called or instant messaged in one touch. You can also flick through recent calls and instant messages right on your iPad by selecting the history tab.
In my experience, the quality of the calls with Skype for iPad are extremely clear and using the front and back-facing cameras are essential for talking face-to-face or showing clients, friends or family something that's better seen than heard. For instance, showing grandma and grandpa how fast their grandchild is growing up is a great use. The app's instant message service is great for quick questions as well as sharing links to photos, video or just about anything you can imagine.
If you do want to use some of the paid features such as calling landlines or mobiles from your iPad, Skype is fairly flexible in that they offer a pay as you go option as well as a monthly subscription if you use these features a lot. Overall, having Skype on the iPad is very useful no matter if you're making international business calls or just want to say 'hi' to a loved one.