Skype 5 for Mac left beta today, bringing with it new group video chat features, improvements, and a new design. The development team behind Skype for Mac listened to user concerns and complaints, which were numerous, and made changes to the final version accordingly.
While Kevin found the beta version of Skype 5 released in November of 2010 to be a big improvement, I agreed with many others that Skype 5 brought in a lot of questionable design elements, including too much whitespace. The app felt ungainly and ugly, despite bearing many new elements that helped it look and feel much more like a native Mac app. The new version makes a number of small changes that add up to a better look overall, but it doesn’t go far enough. The app still feels like it’s taking up way too much space for what it needs to accomplish. The Twitter for Mac app is a perfect example of the exact opposite design philosophy, taking up as little space as possible while still doing what it’s supposed to, and doing it well.
Here are the other changes Skype made based on user feedback regarding the beta (all are welcome and much-needed improvements, in my opinion):
- Tweaked instant message display to reduce whitespace, allowing for more conversation to be visible at once
- Relocated contacts monitor to the Window menu to make it easier to find
- Brought back full-screen mode for video calls
- Introduced easier one-click access to show and hide chat while on a call
One change that might not be so welcome, as it moves a feature that was free in the beta to the Premium subscription package. The feature is Group Video calling, which will now cost you either $4.99 for one day, or $8.99 for the month as part of the Premium package, which also includes customer support calls. Skype had indicated that the feature wouldn’t be free forever, and you can still try it out for free for seven days if you’re a new user, so there’s little reason to complain.
What do you think of the new version? Better than the Beta? Better than Skype 2.8?
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