Continuing the reviews today, we move to the iPad!

Today I’m reviewing 2 client apps – Skype (latest version) and Lync 2013. I don’t use Skype much on here; I have a webcam on my main system for that. But it’s still fully capable. So is Lync.

In fact, my overall results of these tests were higher-quality than the iPhone. Let’s see.

(FYI: These tests were conducted on an iPad 2.)

Skype on iPad – The Facts & Features

Skype on the iPad does pretty much exactly what Skype on the PC does: Make Calls and Video Chats. The interface is more stripped-down than the PC version (not surprising for an iPad app).

Skype Profile Window

MAKING CALLS: I only have a few people on Skype – mostly friends, as we don’t use this for work. (Yet!) So I called two of them & explained why.

If you’ve ever used Skype, you know it has its own protocol for voice: the SILK codec. Skype for Business will take advantage of this codec too. I don’t have any exact measurement tool for sound quality – just a good headset (see my previous Device Review) and my ears.

To these tools, Skype’s audio sounds just as clear as Lync’s. Depending on the other party’s connection, even clearer.

Skype Number Pad

VIDEO CHAT: I tested video chat with a co-worker who worked from home yesterday. Now, Skype is well-known for making video chats easy. Easier than Lync 2013 in some respects.

That said, having mostly used Lync for video calls, the lag time and jitter in my Skype video chat was disappointing. Neither of us was on a VPN, or a low-bandwidth connection. Yet my co-worker’s face kept jerking & going out of sync with his own words.

USER IMPRESSIONS: Perhaps my video sync issue was isolated. When I talked with other Skype users and read reviews on the App Store, it was not among the chief issues reported.

The most frequent complaints were Dropped Calls and Lack of Three-Way Calling. The latter is partly understandable (see “Limitations” for why). Dropped calls is partially explained by the varying connection speeds in use at the consumer level. The same issue affects some of our clients’ remote Lync users. It’s annoying, and there’s only so much compensation you can do with your network bandwidth.

LIMITATIONS: Skype’s Group Video chats are not accessible on mobile devices like iPads. Three-Way Calling (audio only) is possible on mobiles, but you can’t start one from an iPad. A Skype user on a PC or Mac must start it. Hence why user frustration is understandable – you have to message someone from your iPad and ask them to start a three-way call with you!

The Question of Skype Subscriptions

I followed a link from the Skype app to their Rates page: http://www.skype.com/en/rates/

For years now, people have paid for Skype to call non-Skype numbers. It’s a cheap and good-quality way to keep in touch with everybody.

But I saw nothing on the page about the impending changes wrought by Skype for Business 2015.

Which makes me wonder – WILL there be any changes on this side? Will Microsoft dare to poke the beast that is Skype’s Worldwide Market?

We’ll find out soon.
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Lync 2013 on iPad – The Facts & Features

Lync 2013 on the iPad is almost identical to Lync 2013 on iPhone. Though it benefits greatly from the iPad’s larger screen. Much easier to navigate its functions and carry on conversations.

I’d argue that using Lync 2013 on an iPad is even easier than on a desktop. This is one instance where Microsoft took full advantage of a mobile device’s size.

Lync iPad Contacts

The Lync 2013 screen has 5 main windows available: Contacts, Chats, Meetings, Phone, and Profile. These correspond to the desktop client exactly.

  • Make calls & review voicemails from the Phone window (these are synced from the Lync Server)
  • View contacts’ Presence and initiate conversations from the Contacts window
  • Review Meetings scheduled in your Outlook calendar in the Meetings window
  • View Conversation History (local to iPad) under the Chats window
  • Update your own Presence and Lync options in the Profile window

CALLS AND MEETINGS: IM conversations on the iPad go smoothly, and have for months. I initiated a Lync Call to two co-workers (one the remote worker I mentioned earlier). Both calls were comparable to the Skype Call. I used the same Jabra headset.

Lync Calls

To test Meetings, I scheduled a meeting on my laptop, and joined it on my iPad. The two co-workers invited joined as well, one from their laptop, and one from their phone. We had a bit of tinny background noise for the first 2 minutes. But it cleared up. I did not notice any other jitter or lag.

USER IMPRESSIONS: There’s a notable user impression in the Lync 2013 Reviews pane I should mention. This user says that, if the device runs iOS 8, Lync 2013 becomes unstable and will crash.

Now, this iPad has NOT been updated to iOS 8 yet – it’s old enough that the update would lead to a serious performance slowdown – so I don’t see this error. (In fact, Lync didn’t give me any trouble at all.) But a stability question, possibly dependent on the OS involved, merits mentioning.

Otherwise, impressions indicate a few complaints on connection issues adding people to Meetings. I didn’t find much on poor call quality or dropped calls. Given that Lync is more often used while on a corporate network, this isn’t surprising.

LIMITATIONS: Lync 2013 has the same limitation on the iPad it does on the iPhone – Conversation History is limited to conversations using the iPad.

Lync Conversation History

I hold out hope that this will be resolved, eventually!

Verdict: Lync Slightly Ahead of Skype, Integration Should Favor Lync Usability

Microsoft’s claim for Skype for Business 2015 is that Lync Server will take on more of the Skype UI. Thus making it more appealing to a wide audience, simpler to navigate, and consistent across all devices.

In the iPad/tablet sphere, I think Microsoft should reverse this script. Here Lync is the more intuitive UI, with the more responsive controls. Building Skype look & feel into the interface, go for it. But keep as much of Lync’s app-level functionality as possible. It does the job very well.

What’s your experience using Lync 2013 and/or Skype on the iPad? Please comment or email your thoughts.

Next week I have another Device Review…and you’re definitely going to love this one. See you then!

Skype on iPad vs. Lync 2013 on iPad: Dual App Reviews
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