Skype 5 Beta Hits the Mac

| Product News

Skype rolled out a public beta of Skype 5.0 for the Mac on Thursday, leap frogging over versions 3 and 4. The public beta of the chat client application added group video support, along with a redesigned user interface.

Version 5.0 includes Mac OS X Address Book support, and gets much closer to feature parity with the Windows version of Skype, although it doesn’t support Facebook news feeds.

The public beta of Skype 5.0 for the Mac is available as a free download at the Skype Web site. It requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or higher and an Intel-based Mac with at least a 1 GHz processor.

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Mike R

Well… I loaded it the second it was available and glad I did. Some of the clunkiness is gone. Sadly, it has the separate app silo feel of windows apps rather than being truly OS X cool and disappearing into the woodwork unless you need its service.

While it IS a beta, there are things still (like compact view) that are available in the Windows version that didn’t make it here.

Too bad they didn’t build it more as a service, integrate more tightly with the address book and other core tools rather than seemingly utterly standalone and still a bit clunky.

In some ways, besides the bugaboos in 2.8, I liked the old one better.


Nice to see Skype trying to make progress, but the interface of the beta version is a failure. Not possible to see invisible/offline contacts in the smaller contact list, you have keep a huge window open, which has its own idea about hierarchy of contacts so I’ve missed already some messages. By the way, the sending of messages to offline contacts was already possible in version 2.8 - they would appear as ‘pending’ in the nice small contact window. Latly, what strikes immediately is the red/green color of the icons, that’s even worse than previous skype version. To all programmers: don’t use these red/greens with identical grey-values!!! I hope one day programmers will recognise the need of an interface designer.


MacOSX adressbook was already integrated in 2.8 by the way. So all together, nothing new except video conference calls. And, SCREEN SHARING, a beautiful Mac-only feature, has been supressed. This upgrade is not only a failure, it’s a bad joke. I will now revert back to version 2.8.

Mike R

to the address book… yes, it is well integrated except for the ability to fire a Skype IM conversation. Otherwise that is my default way of SkypeOut and SMS via Skype.

I have to agree. this new interface is dismal the more I use it. There are some clear performance improvements but had they simply added the features into the relatively clean interface we had… much better.

I am rather disappointed to get an application not only modeled after a UI style we don’t have or like but isn’t actually that good.


... ‘sign in as another user…’ has been suppressed. Not essential, but why suppress something that works? That’s my last comment, I’m back in 2.8. What performance improvements have you noticed, Mike?

Mike R

Small things in the performance… but I has having trouble on int’l and some domestic video calls for a while with choppy audio for the first 30 - 60 seconds that is now gone. I am on a significant number of conf calls every day where at least ONE every day would be problematic to have the access code recognized and would require redialing to establish a new connection before it worked. That is CONSISTENTLY reliable (so far anyway). Video quality seems, so far, to be consistently better. And with no real measurement beyond purely objective feel, it just feels a bit snappier but you have to look hard beyond the dreadful UI to realize it.

A few small elements I DO like:

The little call monitor box that is visible when Skype isn’t in the foreground

The nice neat little dial pad. To bad you have to get that whacking huge window (even seems big on a 27” iMac) in front to get it rather than the nice little button on the old contact list. Annoying, however, that it goes away when the call is established and you need to chase it up again to enter a code or other response.

The fact that it arbitrarily doesn’t pop to the foreground when a new IM comes in causing one to type in the wrong window.

Those points are nice. But the rest of it. Dreadful. It is almost as it seems to assume will only be doing one thing at time as is the mindset engendered in the Windoze world.

One can only hope two things:
1. That Skype will be actually reading the feedback from the link on the bottom of the beta page
2. That this “beta” is really an alpha release in denial.

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