Mac users feeling spurned by Windows development for Skype can take heart – the company released a beta version of Skype for Mac 1.5 today. Video support is finally included, though it’s a separate download. Drag and drop contact adding and file transfer are smooth. You can even drag and drop someone from your contact list into a group chat.
The biggest change though is in the look and feel of the UI. It’s nice, Skype feels far more sleek than before. It is a beta, so more changes are likely. The ability to launch a call from inside a chat is gone, though you can leave a voice mail from inside IM.
Skype for Windows last updated to version 2.5 in May. That version included support for Skypcasts, group calls with up to 100 participants. Previously, Skype users on non-Intel computers were limited to 6 participants (the subject, in fact, of an AMD subpoena). The new Mac Skype still has no SkypeCast support and my Intel Mac is limited to bringing four other people on a call with me.
This is also another version of Skype that fails to offer call recording – an awesome feature of competitor Gizmo Project.
Along with the news today that at least according to one study, the quality of VOIP calls is falling with increasing demands on the network, this new version of Skype leaves me feeling like I want more from the medium. Consumer VOIP has been around for long enough now that it would be nice to see eBay turn its mega-acquisition into something really fantastic. I don’t think it’s quite there yet.