Skype has previewed a dedicated version of its hugely popular VoIP tool for Apple's iPad to bring enhanced functionality to the tablet and make it more useful for business users on the move.
At present, iPad users are able only to use the iPhone version of the app, which is confined to part of the screen and lacks key functions. The redesign will make full use of the iPad's 9.7in screen.
This will allow video and voice calls, and use of the integrated instant messaging system. IPad owners will also be able to use the camera swap feature, which allows the use of rear- and front-facing cameras.
In contrast to Apple's native FaceTime application, Skype will allow users to make calls over 3G and Wi-Fi, according to a video preview (see below).
If the application receives final clearance from Apple it would be an unusual move as the firm does not usually allow third-party applications to have more functionality than native apps.
The ability to make calls over 3G would make Skype for the iPad much more useful for travelling business users than FaceTime. However, Skype warned that quality will vary depending on signal strength.
A release date for the application has yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to be imminent. There was no word on pricing but, like the iPhone application, it is most likely to be free.
Skype posted a video demonstration of the app on its official YouTube channel but this has since been taken down. However, the preview is available below (minus audio) courtesy of YouTube user razorianFly:
The use of dedicated video communication tools on tablets is a growing trend, with Polycom announcing dedicated versions of its products for Samsung's Galaxy Tab range.
Google is also looking to push into the video communications sector as the use of video messaging looks set to rocket, while Skype is to be incorporated into Microsoft after the firm agreed to pay $8bn for the company in May.
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