Skype released a new beta for Mac users on Thursday, which features the same Facebook integration originally introduced in Skype 5.5 for Windows. That means you can chat directly with your Facebook friends, check your news feed and update your status in Skype for Mac. But it comes at a cost: This beta also introduces ads for nonpaying Skype users.
To use the new Facebook integration, you simply click the “Link to Facebook” button from the Skype Home screen and sign in with your Facebook credentials. Once signed in, the Skype Home tab displays recent activity from your Skype contacts, your Facebook friends or both through a hybrid view. You can also update your status using an input bar at the top of the home screen. Each update presents you with options for Liking and commenting, and you can also call contacts directly using a phone icon located next to their name. If their number is listed on Facebook or they’re on Skype already, you can call instantly; if it’s not, you’ll be prompted to enter it manually. Both options require that you have a paid Skype subscription or Skype credit to work.
It’s a pretty solid implementation of Facebook integration; the news feed works well in Skype’s app window, and the ability to quickly call friends based on news they post to the social network is a very smart thing to include. If my friend announces an engagement, for instance, I could call her directly instead of just posting a “Congrats!” or tapping the Like button. Your Facebook contacts also now show up in your general contacts list when you’re signed in, and you can IM them directly as you would your usual Skype friends.
Note that despite the introduction of Skype-powered video chat to Facebook’s website in July, there is no way to directly video call your online Facebook contacts in this beta. You can initiate a Skype call if your Facebook friends have Skype contact info listed on their profile and then opt to turn it into a video call should they pick up, but that’s as far as video-calling integration goes. I’d hope that Skype has designs on making it easy to video chat directly between the two platforms in the future.
All the new Facebook features are welcome and smartly designed, but there are a few bugs I noticed in this beta, like the fact that initiating calls from the contacts list with Facebook friends to their mobile numbers doesn’t seem to actually connect. There’s also a drawback for nonsubscribers and people who don’t have any Skype credit: ads. Skype is now putting display ads in front of users who only access the free aspects of its service. So if you aren’t terribly fond of the idea of Facebook integration and you’re happy with Skype’s free service, you may want to hold off on this update.