New face of Skype for Mac
The long wait is over and Skype for Mac 1.5 Beta is finally here. We’ve put a lot of effort into it, so get it and give it a try. But before you do that, let me give you a quick overview of how (and why) Skype for Mac has evolved and changed.
]]>First, let me introduce myself. My name is Priidu and my area of responsibility is the visual design of Skype software clients for different platforms. There is a hard-working team of designers and programmers here at Skype, who have spent a lot of time and energy in order to bring you the new version, so I am speaking on behalf of them as well.
Sitting down to design Skype for Mac 1.5 we had a long list of features, bugs and suggestions – many of them sent in by you. We wanted to make a new version of Skype that would bring you more features familiar from Skype for Windows version, improve the software’s usability, enhance its stability and reliability and bring a more Mac-like experience to our users. Compared to previous versions, Skype for Mac 1.5 Beta is more powerful and capable, but sports a simpler, easier and friendlier user interface.
There are several improvements to existing features in Skype for Mac 1.5 Beta, but right now I will focus on the 3 most important re-designed areas of the new user interface. So, what have we re-done?
Skype main window
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Skype for Mac is the new main window. It has received a proper overhaul – as requested, we made it sleeker, lighter and more compact. This is how it looks.
Our task was to end up with a window that would take less screen estate, feature more familiar Mac-like elements and be more effective at managing its contents.
We shuffled different parts of the main window around and removed the tabs and the drawer. Universal search field was moved to the toolbar and the Events/Services panels were replaced by a sleek new Myself panel (might look familiar to some of you from the Windows version). This saves a lot of real estate for the most important thing – your contacts.
Re-designing how the Contacts look, we took the main action icons for calling and chatting and placed them on the contact cards. This way they are closer to the presence and other info you want to see about the selected contact.
To make it easier to call to ordinary phones, we added a button at the bottom of the window that opens the SkypeOut Easy dialer. And there are also familiar Mac-like buttons at the bottom of the main window for adding new contacts and customizing how your Contact List looks.
With these design changes, the user experience of the re-designed main window for browsing and managing contacts has improved a lot. In the same breath we have also managed to give you what was requested – a simpler and sleeker main window.
Skype chat window
For chat window, we faced similar complaints – it looks too bulky, takes too much screen-estate and does not allow proper management of several chats. Here is the new chat window for Skype for Mac 1.5 Beta.
As you can see, the re-designed chat window now has much simpler and lighter content and input areas. The new chat window drawer allows different Contact views and drag-and-drop functionality allows chats to be managed effectively. Also, if you open Skype’s Chat Preferences, you can turn on Skype Modern chatstyle that is more compact and legible than the one we had in Skype for Mac 1.4.
Besides holding a lot of calls, we here at Skype spend a lot of time using the text chatting feature (there are many group chats with 50 participants or so), so the request for a feature-wise more powerful, yet more simply designed chat window was a real challenge to us. We hope you like it too and I am confident we can keep improving it in the future.
Skype call windows
Many of you suggested we take calls out of the main window drawer. This issue is now addressed in Skype for Mac 1.5 Beta.
Skype calls now open in a separate windows and this allows the call window to be easily adjusted to the size of your liking – compact for 1:1 call, larger for conference or video calling. Or vice versa.
In addition, the call window now feature simple controls for holding/muting calls and displaying the dial pad. And you can also very simply drag-and-drop Contacts to your call windows to create conferences.
While we have many tips and tricks about the new beta for you (check back here, we’ll have more blog posts coming!), the three screenshots above illustrate the most visible changes to the user interface of Skype for Mac 1.5 Beta.
Hopefully this brief intro was useful and helps you get started with the new version of Skype for Mac. Try it out and don’t hesitate to let us know what you think of it through our survey or in the comments to this blogpost.