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Skype updates Mac client, adds HD video

Skype just dropped an update for its Mac (s aapl) client. Version 5.3 includes support for HD video, so long as your Mac is equipped with one of the new FaceTime HD cameras introduced in MacBook Pros earlier this year, or a third-party USB camera that supports HD resolution. Along with the usual bug fixes, the update also brings full Lion compatibility.

I tested the new Skype client with my new 2011 27-inch iMac, which is equipped with an HD camera. The person I called reported that video quality definitely looked much better post-update, even though my home DSL internet connection probably doesn’t quite meet the 1.5 Mbps upload/download specification recommended by Skype for HD calls. We talked for approximately five minutes, and he noticed no real change in the quality of the picture.

Skype also says on its blog that the update brings “a number of fixes and improvements to the user interface.” I didn’t notice any major ones, besides changes to the way the contact list appears, including quick access to adding individuals to favorites. For me, the Skype interface still isn’t nearly as clean or well-designed as in versions preceding the 5.0 update.

Skype remains probably the strongest video chat client on the Mac, something backed up by our readers. One of its biggest strengths when compared to Apple’s own FaceTime solution is how consistently it has released small updates that pack new features, whereas FaceTime has remained relatively static since launch in terms of what you can do with it. The HD calling seems to work well, at least based on my limited trial. If you do install the update, please let us know how HD calling and the interface tweaks are working for you.

6 Responses to “Skype updates Mac client, adds HD video”

  1. ryan bagueros

    I clicked through to this article just so I could complain about the Skype UI. It isn’t isolated to just the OSX client, either.

    Sorting out where I can do what is ridiculous; is it my account dashboard at, the separate (but single sign-on) Skype Manager web app or the desktop client (also known to -drop- features with new releases, e.g. API plug-ins)?

    The incoherent UX strongly communicates to me an internal organization problem at Skype. I have no particular loyalties here: I never had much trust in Skype’s call encryption because it wasn’t open/free (a prejudice that was eventually justified by the publication of a feasible reverse engineering attack vs Skype). In short, I’d be open to trying something else out. HD quality isn’t my highest priority.

  2. Jon Doyle

    Hate the interface compared to the 2.x generation. I went back to the more simple UI, as I use it mostly for audio and IM and like the compact design better than taking over my entire desktop. THey should toggle themes or something to give people choice in the layout.

  3. Dennis Mak

    Indeed agree with the both of you. You can only sort the online status by using the list view. I don’t see how the grid view is useful at all. Also, the address book somehow didn’t update all of my contacts on FaceTime? I still need to call someone to find out the video quality, but doubt that there will be an improvement.

    I just recently bought my first Apple laptop(MBA) and using Skype on this feel a bit behind in terms of the UI design (The boring gray color).

  4. Michael Powell

    Have to agree with your point about sorting online contacts David.

    In the default grid view, I too cannot find a way to sort by online status, however in the list view you can simply click on the column head to sort by online status. A bit of a stupid design overview to allow the ability to sort on only one view.

    If it is indeed available and I have missed it, then it’s failed also.

  5. This is again a horrible UI update! what is wrong with Skype for mac lately!
    the new contacts views are horrendous, so overly complicated, I hate the green call button that follows my mouse up and down as I scroll over contacts, it’s entirely too distracting!

    and how do I even sort by online contacts now?????
    THE WORST !!!