Home Software Skype for Mac plays catch-up: first look at 5.0 beta

Skype 5.0 for Windows arrived last month, but Mac users are still on version 2.8. Good news: Skype 5.0 for Mac is now in beta. Bad news: you may not like some of the changes.


A key feature of the Skype 5.0 for Mac beta is support for group video calls. In previous versions video calls were limited to two participants, but Skype 5.0 for Windows introduced multi-way video hookups. This feature requires all participants to be using version 5 - and sufficient bandwidth. Skype recommends 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up.

A new call control bar floats above any other windows while calls are in progress, so it isn't necessary to bring the Skype application to the front to mute or end calls.

Phone numbers from the Mac OS X Address Book are optionally accessible within Skype 5.0.

Other new features include searching across multiple chats, and the ability to quickly rejoin a call after an Internet drop-out.

The application's user interface has been redesigned to use a single and comparatively bulky window. The default text size is much larger than in that used in Skype 2.8, and size adjustments only apply to message text, not to contact and conversation names.

And there's more to be unhappy about - see page 2.



If you had a carefully sorted list of contacts and conversations in the old version, you may not be impressed by the way Skype 5.0 arranges the list on a 'most recently used' basis.

Most annoyingly, the change to a single-window design means you can't see all your contacts' statuses while reading a chat or conversation, only those with whom you've recently communicated.

The official release of Skype 5.0 for Mac is expected "soon", according to a company spokesperson.

You can download Skype 5.0 for Mac beta here.

 

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

 

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