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Making phone calls with your iPad

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Who needs an iPhone when you have an iPad? Matthew David shows you the best apps to install and use to phone family and friends directly from your iPad.
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You have your iPad and it can do almost everything your iPhone does with one big exception: You can't make phone calls. In this article, you'll see how you can add this missing feature to round out the functionality of your iPad.

What Your iPad Needs to Make Calls

There are two critical elements your iPad requires to make phone calls:

  • A microphone
  • Network connectivity

Each iPad has a microphone built in. It is the tiny hole located next to your headphone jack at the top of the iPad.

The built-in microphone allows the iPad to become a conference phone. For more private conversations, you can use a Bluetooth headset or the ear buds with the built-in microphone that comes with the iPhone.

The second feature you need is connectivity. All iPads ship with support for Wi-Fi networks, which means that you can use your iPad on your home network or at a Wi-Fi hotspot such as local coffee house.

Unfortunately, Wi-Fi is not everywhere. Walk away from the cafe and you will lose your network connection. There are two ways to avoid losing your high-speed data connection:

  • Purchase a 3G iPad that allows you to buy a 3G data plan
  • Tether your iPad

The 3G data plan for the iPad does not require a contract, so you can activate and cancel the plan on a whim. Maybe you do not travel much for business, but once a year you have to go to Vegas for a conference. Turn on the 3G just for your time in Vegas. As soon as you leave, you can cancel the plan.

Successful phone calls made from your iPad require a dedicated network connection. If you do not have a 3G or Wi-Fi connection you cannot make phone calls from your iPad.

Calls made on your iPad use the Voice over Internet Protocol, also known as VoIP. This is the same technology that powers phone systems for companies such as Vonage and Skype. The actual data connection you need for VoIP phones is small. Most calls are only sending your voice at 30kbs. In comparison, a video on YouTube can require 10 times that amount of data.

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