For a lot of us, Skype is one of the most important applications on our computers. The early betas of Skype for Mac 5, though, were rough, as they introduced the same single-window interface that Skype for Windows users have had to live with for a while now. Many of the user interface choices the Skype for Mac team decided on also made the app harder to use. The betas also took away far too much space on the screen.
Wasting Screen Estate
The final release of the Mac version fixes some of the earlier problems (less whitespace, return of fullscreen mode for video etc.), but it still keeps its focus on the single-windows interface. This means you can’t just see a single chat conversation in a separate windows. Instead, you are forced to keep the contacts list open at all times. As so many things with this new version, this means you need far more real estate on your screen to use Skype now.
Skype says this new version is small enough to be kept at the side of your screen. I guess that depends on your screen, but just know that at a width of 460 pixels in its slimmest mode, it still 50% wider than the Skype for Mac app.
Interestingly, while you are on a voice or video call, you can close the contacts pane, but not while you are just using the text chat.
The Skype team did a lot of things right in this new version, though, especially when compared to the betas. The dial pad is now prominently displayed in the toolbar, it’s easier to find the Contacts Monitor (a list of all your contacts who are online now) and the UI now features less whitespace and a more condensed view of the information you actually want to see.
Free Group Video Calls are Gone
The new version does away with free group video calls. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as the same thing happened with the Windows version and has long been part of Skype’s roadmap. For $4.99, you can buy a day pass and $8.99 get you access to this feature for one month.