Skype Group Video Calls Come To The Mac In Beta

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Group video calling on Skype is now available in the new Skype 5.0 Beta for Macs, which just rolled out this morning. Skype 5.0 for Windows came out only a couple weeks ago, and it is already here for Mac.

The overall interface is much cleaner. Although, it does take some getting used to: the buttons and fonts are bigger, like a kid’s version of Skype. Also, you can’t make the window smaller beyond a certain point.

Conversations get pushed up to the top of the sidebar based on most recent chats. I’m not sure if this is new or not, but in the version of Skype I just upgraded from, conversations stayed where they were, and I always had to scroll up and down among more than 100 open conversations to find the person talking to me (I use Skype mostly as an IM client).

When you are making acall or video conference, a new mini control bar pops up with a hang-up button, mute, and other shortcuts. The group calling takes some getting used to. Everyone you call must have the latest 5.0 version of Skype. But you create a group video call with people on both Windows and Macs. You can even swap your video feed for a screenshare. This feature is kind of hidden, however. You have to click on the “Send files/Contacts” button, which then gives you the option to share your screen in a drop-down menu.

The new version contains other improvements as well, including offline IM, the ability to reconnect a call if your Internet connection drops off, and a floating contacts monitor.

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