Skype iPad app now available for download, again

Skype today restored its new iPad program to Apple’s iOS App Store after pulling it from the download market yesterday.

The free app can now be downloaded from the App Store.

Late Monday, Skype briefly published the app to Apple’s e-store, but quickly withdrew it, saying the move had been hasty.

“To ensure your best Skype experience, we’ve temporarily removed Skype for iPad which went live prematurely today,” the company said in a Twitter message Monday night.

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Shortly after 10 a.m. ET today, Skype used Twitter and a company blog to announce the restoration of the software to the App Store, but did not explain what had been changed, if anything.

The app has been expected for more than a month, when reports surfaced that a release was imminent. For a short time, a video produced by Skype demonstrating the new iPad app was available on the Web, but that was also pulled.

Like Apple’s own FaceTime app, Skype for the iPad utilizes the front-facing camera on the iPad 2 to enable video calls while the user looks at the other caller. The first-generation iPad can only receive video calls.

But contrary to FaceTime, Skype on the iPad lets users call and video chat with owners of non-Apple devices, including Android smartphones, and Windows and Linux PCs.

Skype for the iPad sends and receives calls, including video calls, over either a Wi-Fi or 3G data connection, another differentiator from FaceTime, which currently allows video chat via Wi-Fi only. Reports have circulated, however, that iOS 5, which will ship this fall, presumably alongside the next iPhone, will enable 3G calling with carrier approval.

The appearance of Skype on the iPad adds another Apple connection to Microsoft, which is in the process of acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion , a deal announced in May that has yet to win regulatory approval.

During the news conference that unveiled the acquisition, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised that Skype would not disappear from non-Windows platforms, such as Mac OS X, iOS and Android.

“A, I said it and I meant it,” Ballmer said when a reporter asked for assurances that Skype would continue to be available for operating systems and devices not sold by Microsoft. “B, we’re one of the few companies with a track record of doing this,” he added, citing Microsoft’s work on Mac OS X. Microsoft develops and sells a Mac-specific version of its Office suite.

Skype has had an iPhone app in the App Store since March 2009, and the program has been able to make video calls since version 3 was released at the end of that year.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg’s RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected] .

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