Skype releases beta for Mac OS X

Mac-based Skype users can upgrade to a new beta, but video calling hasn't quite been perfected

Skype has released a beta version of its latest client for Mac OS X users.

The new version, 1.5, of the Internet telephony (VoIP) client boasts a new, more streamlined look. However, much of the functionality in the new Mac beta involves the sort of features that Skype's Windows users have enjoyed for some time, such as menu-selectable dialling codes and easy importation of address book contacts.

One feature that remains conspicuously absent is video calling, but Skype's community marketing manager, Jaanus Kase, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that a Skype for Mac Video Preview was also being released.

He claimed it would be "exactly the same" as Skype for Mac OS X 1.5 Beta, but would include the video capability.

"Quite frankly, it's not done yet," Kase conceded, "but we had quite a lot of interest from Mac users [so we] put out a preview for the more technically adventurous users".

Skype allows users to make free calls over the Internet to other Skype users, and cut-price calls to fixed-line and mobile numbers. It has proved popular with both consumers and businesses — Skype estimates that one in three users is a mobile professional

Mac-based users make up a small minority of Skype's overall user base, said Kase, although exact figures are unavailable. He described them as "very often much more vocal" and "an intriguing, inspiring community to work with", adding that the Mac-using community would hopefully be able to help Skype "refine" the video feature.

Skype for Mac 1.5 Beta and Skype for Mac video preview can both be downloaded from the company's site.