This new Skype for Mac v5 is here, bringing a look and feel much closer to the Windows client, which also currently stands at version 5. Wave bye-bye to a slim-line window containing your contacts, with separate chat windows appearing for each conversation you have, and instead welcome a single window where everything takes place.
Aside from revamping the user interface, a lot of functionality has been added for Mac users to enjoy for the first time. First up, the client now integrates fully with your Mac Address Book, enabling you to quickly import contacts into your Skype account. Group Video Calling has also been introduced to the version 5, allowing up to ten people with reasonable broadband connections to chat simultaneously. You can try it out for free for 7 days, and then purchase either a day pass starting at $4.99 (€3.49/£2.99) or as a monthly subscription for $8.99 (€5.99/£4.99) per month.
Other new features include a new call-control bar, which appears when you open another program, enabling you to end, mute or put on hold any calls you’re currently making. You can now also search the content of past conversations, helping you quickly refer back to past chats. Offline IM allows you to send and receive instant messages to people even when they’re not online.
Skype 5 is a tricky one to recommend for Mac users. The new UI is going to win and lose some users. We're so used to the current Skype 2.x approach, that the new version was too much of a departure. With the Windows version of Skype 5, you can quickly iconify each chat window to your taskbar, enabling you to receive a notification when someone has Skype'd you. Not with Skype for Mac v5. Try it for yourself and see how it compares to the previous version.
Skype v5.3 now fully supports Lion and HD video.
A huge leap forward in terms of functionality for Mac users, but the redesign will split users down the middle, particularly those who like having separate windows for separate conversations.