Mac OS X only: The popular VoIP application Skype has released a killer new beta for Macs, adding new features like screen sharing and Skype Access, a great new Wi-Fi access tool.
Skype knows that a big hurdle keeping its users from enjoying Skype everywhere is the cost of Wi-Fi access on the go. With Skype Access, you get to pay for access by-the-minute at any of 100,000 Boingo Wi-Fi spots for around $US0.19 per minute. Under some circumstances you'd still be better off paying for full access, but it's an interesting direction. Boingo is the only Wi-Fi provider currently supported, though it seems very likely that Skype would be happy to integrate with more providers in the future.
The next big thing from the new Skype beta is screen sharing—that is, sharing what you see on your monitor with the person you're chatting with or vice versa. OS X has had screen sharing built into iChat since the release of Leopard, but if you never use iChat but spend a lot of time with Skype, this could be a great new feature. Although screen sharing is currently only available for Skype 2.8 beta for the Mac, Mac users can still share their screens with Windows and Linux users running Skype.
Other New Features
Apart from Skype Access and screen sharing, the new Skype offers a lot more handy functionality and features, including:
- Improved chat management: you can sort chats in the drawer and set priorities to chats
- Quick Add: it's now much easier to add people to chats
- Mood message chat: see mood message updates from your friends as chat messages
- Large profile pictures: just like Skype 4.0 Beta 2 for Windows, you can now use images of up to 256 x 256 pixels
- Hidden avatars in incoming contact requests: a small minority of Skype users have profile pictures which others may find unpleasant, and so they're now hidden by default in contact requests
- Add notes to contacts: you can add notes to a contact in their profile window - handy for keeping track of who's who.
If you're a dedicated Skyper, let's hear how you like the new features in the comments.