There are already a few articles on MakeUseOf about the features available on Skype for Mac, such as its group video client, experience-enhancing tips, and even some shortcuts that you may not know about. However, we’ve never really talked about the app itself.
Overall, Skype for Mac is an app that performs in a solid manner, and I have a feeling that I will end up using it time and time again. Realistically, you probably know what Skype is after hearing about it from a variety of other outlets. However, if you aren’t actually using it, you should probably see what it has to offer.
Basic Video Calling
The basic function of Skype is simple: to provide free video calling for app users across different platforms. After creating an account and downloading the app, you will be whisked away to (something like) the wonderful world of Back to the Future Part II, where you can virtually talk to anyone in your living room. Kind of.
I tested Skype out using the app for my iPhone 5 and my Macbook Pro, and I found that it worked quite well between the two. Despite the occasional jump in streaming (likely due to my connection), it sounded and looked quite clear on both ends. Furthermore, trying the service prior to my first call was easy thanks to the app’s automated test function.
Calls to your computer are interruptive but in the polite “sir, there’s someone who would like to speak to you” kind of manner.
Your Mac may already have the Contacts app filled to the brim with people you’ve met everywhere. Fortunately, Skype will automatically import their information to your address book.
Furthermore, you can import all of your Facebook friends into Skype, so if your iPhone’s contact list is empty but your Facebook stalker list is full, this is a welcomed feature. By allowing it, you must give it permission to post on your behalf and access your newsfeed. If you are paranoid, just set your posts from Skype to be viewed only by you, and no one will ever see it. Also, by doing this your newsfeed will be viewable in the app itself.
As a note, the ability to add Facebook friends is a latecomer to the Mac platform. Skype for Windows had it for ages, so bear in mind that new features arriving on Windows may arrive a bit later for Mac.
Do More With Credits
Credits have always seemed like a joke for apps like this. Who really pays for the extra stuff? Well, besides the monthly calling plans for international communication, credits can be purchased by the minute for brief calls overseas. Furthermore, Skype Credits can be purchased for minute usage with certain Skype Wifi areas (over a million are out there).
Is it enough to win me over? Not really. But it’s nice to know that it’s there. Other paid plans include the Premium option which allows for unlimited calling and group video calls.
Skype for Mac also allows for calls to landlines and mobile phones. I tested the feature out by calling my girlfriend’s phone, and there were no delays or mishaps whatsoever. Audio was crystal clear, and I’m now considering using this as a method of phone contact with her while working.
As I mentioned before, her number was automatically integrated into my address book. You can also set up a voice messaging system with Skype’s phone calls to help you when you are away. Skype Credit is required for this, but it would appear you get the first few minutes free.
Sensible Interface & Incredible Sounds
Since Skype was acquired by Microsoft, its website gives off a very Windows 8 kind of feel. You’ll see what I mean in the image below, but it seems as though its Mac app doesn’t match the same branding. I’m not sure if they plan to update it or not. Nevertheless, the Mac app is clean, functional, and comprehensible. Everything you need from Contacts to Credit can be found on the left-hand side, and your contacts are laid out in a nice, grid-like format.
Before I go any further, I want you to know that I realize this is supposed to be a professionally-written review designed to tell you how Skype for Mac works. I also know that you, as a dedicated reader and responsible consumer, trust MakeUseOf to help you with your app-downloading decisions. With that in mind, I would like to just comment on one aspect of Skype that may seem unusual to fanboy over: its sound design.
Overall, it’s just very cool, and despite my editor’s disdain for this blatantly over-used word, I really can’t accurately describe in any other form. The sounds are composed a of a strange hybrid of organic and mechanical tones. That’s right. It’s cool.
I’ll never use the word again, now. Thanks for letting me have that, though.
Competition With Messages
Here’s the main question I have: why should I use Skype when I have Messages already installed on my Mac? Well, Messages is mainly used with the iPhone’s Facetime camera, and the truth is that not everybody has an iPhone – plain and simple. With Skype, you have cross-platform abilities, and since it is focused on video chat and calling, it stays in its niche.
Now to you. What do you think of Skype for Mac? Have you had any problems with the app on this platform? Would you ever buy Skype credit?