When Microsoft bought Skype back in May 2011 for an impressive billion, many long term users feared the worst for the popular voice, video, and instant messaging service. Fear not as Skype, for now at least, continues to innovate and evolve as the PC software giant appears committed to developing the Mac version. Skype for Mac 5.8 is a fairly significant update, bringing the Mac features pretty much in line with what's available for PC users. See Skype 3 for iPhone review.
A new, rather reintroduced, dinky, streamlined contacts list helps users keep on top of who is online without dominating desktop real estate, with the ability to reposition, resize and group contacts. Mac users chatting to those on Apple iOS and Google Android devices now see video automatically formatted. The latest update also offers greater Facebook integration, with the ability to see your Facebook newsfeed, update your status, comment and 'Like' directly from Skype, as well as in beta format video chat. See also Skype for Android review.
While Skype-to-Skype video and voice calls are free, you'll need to buy credit to make calls to landlines and mobiles both in the UK and internationally. Skype offers a typically fuzzy range of premium packages, which start from a modest £3.19 per month, if you are willing to take out a 12-month subscription up-front. It's an option worth considering as Skype has upped the features available to premium users in the face of improved competition.
Skype Premium includes 'unlimited' calls to the US and Canada, group video calling and group screen sharing. The latter two are useful additions for both business and friends and family, and group video calling only requires one participant to have Skype Premium of the maximum of 10 users at any one time. It's worth noting a fair usage policy applies to many of the Skype Premium features and, as ever, audio and video quality is never guaranteed.