4 Comments

Summary:

Skype 5.2 for Mac, released Tuesday, introduces group screen sharing in addition to group video calling, which has been available since the Skype 5.0 beta for Mac. It’s a good update for pro users, but others might not find it so appealing.

group-screen-sharing

Skype released a new version of its OS X client Tuesday. Version 5.2 introduced group screen sharing in addition to group video calling, which has been available since the Skype 5.0 beta for Mac. Both are useful features, but you can only take advantage of them if you happen to be a Skype Premium subscriber.

For non-Premium users, there are some improvements that make it a worthwhile upgrade from version 5.1. For one, it seems to be a lot less buggy than previous versions, which for me frequently had trouble with landline calls and some freezing issues. The UI also boasts some small changes, like the ability to completely hide the sidebar menu to make it easier to focus on a single conversation. You can also now pop out video controls in a small hovering window when you interact with other applications or your desktop. This keeps the person you’re talking with on top and visible, and also allows you quick access to hang up and mute commands.

The changes should appeal to Skype power-users, and especially those Premium subscribers who use group calling for meetings and virtual conferences. The new screen-sharing options (limited to OS X for now) make video chat a whole lot more productive, and Skype still offers the best video chat quality of any of the various OS X options that I’ve seen. Our readers seem to agree, as more than half chose Skype as their Mac video chat client of choice in our recent poll. It’s nice to see that even after acquisition by Microsoft, Skype’s presence on other platforms isn’t being ignored, especially now that Google seems to be interested in making a big play in the group video chat market.

Unfortunately, the new UI Skype introduced in 5.0 and refined slightly in 5.1 remains largely unchanged. It’s still too big and obtrusive for an app that would be served better by being more inconspicuous. There are quite a few tutorials out there providing instructions for downgrading to the more simplified and minimalist Skype 2.8, and if you’re not a Premium user, this new version doesn’t really offer much incentive to upgrade. Since group calling and group screen sharing only require one Premium user to initiate, however, you might want to suck it up and make the switch, just so you can use the new features if a request to do so comes your way.

  1. I upgraded, but it was a hassle. First, it said there was no upgrade. A second try a few seconds later said there was. Then after the download, the updater claimed it could not “verify the authenticity of the download file” and said I must manually update. Yet more hassle with a product that used to be wonderfully hassle-free.

    I hate what this product has become. For now, I’m not using the minutes I bought for outgoing calls. Skype 5 has the worst UI I’ve seen on a Mac. Windows such as the keypad seem to come and go for no reason, typically disappearing when I need them most to navigate a phone tree. Even badly done Java apps are better.

    Skype should quit adding features and focus on giving 5.3 a usable, Mac-like UI.

    Share
  2. Gerherd Giedrojc Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    I have to agree with Mike Perry’s comment. I have almost stopped using my Skype out credits. I now almost exclusively use FaceTime and OoVoo for video and Viber for voice,

    Share
  3. I downgraded to Skype 2.8, etc.. it works fine. Skype 5 is the ugliest Mac app I’ve ever seen

    Share
  4. Great article.

    Is Skype will continue to support the Mac at the same speed under the leadership of Microsoft?

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post