New Skype Mac beta adds video calling support

The Voice Over IP (VoIP) software Skype is now available for the Mac in beta form with video calling capability. Skype for Mac 2.0 is a free download from the Skype Web site.

Skype enables Mac and PC users to communicate with each other for free over a global network. What’s more, users can subscribe to “SkypeIn” and “SkypeOut” services to accept incoming or make outgoing calls to landlines and cell phones at specific rates, worldwide.

While the Windows version of Skype already has video calling abilities, Mac users have been disappointed with a lagging Macintosh version that doesn’t have that capability (the PC version is already at version 2.5). This beta release adds that video calling feature, enabling any Mac Skype user to make free video calls to any other Skype users regardless of platform. Skype estimates its current user base at more than 113 million users globally.

The new video calling ability can be facilitated either within the Skype window or using the full screen. Skype also displays a smaller window that shows yourself, so you can see how you look to other people.

Skype for Mac 2.0 supports one-to-one video calls, specifically. Apple’s iChat AV software supports video conferencing of up to four users simultaneously, set up around a virtual “conference table,” but iChat AV lacks Skype’s inbound and outbound telephone calling capabilities.

Skype for Mac OS X 2.0 requires Mac OS X v10.3.9 or later, a G4/800MHz or faster, 512MB RAM, 40MB hard disk space and Internet connection.

In related news, Skype has announced the release of a “Gold” version of Skype for Mac 1.5.

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