The iPad is a media device that comes with a variety of features, including the ability to talk to others using an Internet or cellular data connection. The iPad comes with a number of communications apps including FaceTime and iMessage, but if you'd like to use the iPad as a phone-like device you'll have to download an application designed for that purpose. Several can be downloaded from the App Store, including Google Voice, Skype, Vonage and Viber.
If you don't want to download any additional apps to talk on your iPad, you can use Apple's FaceTime. Both you and the person you're talking to must have the FaceTime app installed and be logged in. FaceTime was designed for video chat, but you can easily turn off video by initiating a FaceTime call and then clicking on the "Home" button once the call has been established. This will enable the app to continue streaming audio while pausing the transmission of video. If you want to enable video chat, just click the green bar that says "Touch to Resume" at the top of the screen. FaceTime is available only on Apple devices.
If video chat is not your thing, you can download a variety of apps that turn your iPad into a phone. Google Voice enables you to call any number in the United States or Canada free of charge. You'll need a Google Voice account, the GV Connect and Talkatone app (see links in Resources) installed for everything to work correctly. All calls will be placed over VoIP and you'll need either a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. Skype is another program that allows you to talk to other Skype users free of charge. If you want a dedicated phone number that non-Skype users can call you on, you'll need to subscribe to Skype Premium (see link in Resources).
You have dozens of choices for VoIP apps available in the App Store. Marc Saltzman, a writer for USA Today, recommends the MagicJack app for placing and receiving calls from your iPad. MagicJack allows you to make free calls to the United States and Canada from whenever you are. Like other VoIP apps, all you need is an Internet or cellular data connection . Other VoIP apps include Viber, Rebtel and Pinger (see links in Resources). Take a look at the features of each app to find the one that works best for you.
In addition to a VoIP app to place and receive calls, you'll need some additional hardware if you don't want to talk on speakerphone or hold the iPad up to your ear whenever you make a call, so a Bluetooth headset could be a great investment. After you pair the headset with your iPad, you can use a variety of apps including Skype, FaceTime and Google Voice to talk over Bluetooth. Unfortunately, you won't be able to answer calls with the Bluetooth headset directly.
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