updated 11:20 am EDT, Thu November 4, 2010
Tweaks speed up interface access
VoIP provider Skype today launched a beta 5.0 version of its Mac client software. The code marks an important leap, as the Windows client is already at v5.0, whereas the latest stable Mac release is v2.8, although features are not so far separated. The main addition in the Mac beta is support for group video calling, which requires a v5.0-level client for all parties.
Users can now also send messages to offline recipients, and access a call control bar that floats on top of any windows a person currently has open. Other changes include quick rejoins after temporary connection disruptions, and an option for searching through chat archives. Contacts have been improved with a floating contacts monitor, and the ability to personalize them through user profiles.
The beta is a free download. Users must have at least Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, along with a 1GHz Intel processor. Group video calls are only recommended for people with 4Mbps of downstream bandwidth and a 1Mbps upload speed.