Skype, which is a cross-platform instant messaging (IM) and Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) application has released beta 5.0 of the Mac OS X client.
Your eyes are not deceiving you. While the previous versions of Skype for Mac were 2.8 and below, the new 5.0 number reflects a couple of major updates and is now at the same version number as the Windows client.
The first major update is that Skype for Mac now supports group video calling, a feature that is present in Apple’s iChat client, but has’t been available to Mac Skype users. In order to use this feature, everybody on the video chat needs to be using version 5.0 or newer. I’m not sure about this feature when using an iPhone.
There is another major update, but it’s overshadowed (in my opinion) by the group video calling. The user interfaace has been overhauled and is now a single, unified window. You’ll no longer have your chats, video calls, etc., in different windows. I’ve got mixed feelings about this, but there is a “call control bar” that can sit on top of other windows you have open. With the unified interface though, it makes for a larger overall window. I understand the reasoning behind it though, and I’m going to use it – I’ve been really looking forward to the group video calls. A lot of us use Skype to keep in touch with family and friends.