The iPad is not an iPhone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make telephone calls with it. Well, certain kinds of calls, specifically VoIP calls. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s a technology that basically turns Internet wires into telephone wires.
With special software and a microphone, VoIP lets you place calls from computer-to-computer or even from computer-to-regular-phone. And with programs like Skype, you can place calls from iPad-to-iPad, iPad-to-computer, or iPad-to-phone. Best of all, you can get Skype for free in the App Store.
To use Skype, you need to set up an account with the service. It’s sort of like setting up an instant-messaging program. During the process, you pick a user name and password that appears in the Contacts list of people you make Skype calls with.
To make a call from Skype, just tap the name of a person (who also needs to be online) in your Contacts list. To call a regular phone line, tap the little blue phone icon (circled), enter the number on the keypad, and hit the green Call button.
Skype calls themselves—which currently only work over Wi-Fi—can be free if they’re going from computer or iPad to computer or iPad, but Skype charges a bit of coin to jump off the Internet and call real phone numbers. The rates are low compared to standard phone services, and it’s a popular way to make cheap overseas calls. For instance, for $6 a month you can make unlimited calls to landlines in the country of your choice (and more than 40 countries offer Skype calling). You can find prices for Skype’s various calling plans at www.skype.com/prices.
Skype can be a great way to keep up with the folks back in the Old Country on the cheap, but call quality can vary. The Internet can be a very busy network, which can affect the fidelity of the voice signals traveling across it.
Learn more about this topic from iPad: The Missing Manual.
The iPad 2 is faster, lighter, and more versatile than its predecessor, but there's still no printed guide to using its amazing features. That's where this full-color Missing Manual comes in. Learn how to stream HD video, make video calls, manage your email, surf the Web, listen to music, play games, and maybe even do a little iWork. It's the book that should have been in the box.