Skype has released a new beta for Mac users that features Facebook integration, which was originally introduced in Skype 5.5 for Windows. The new feature allows you to chat directly with your Facebook friends, check your News Feed, and update your status without leaving Skype.
To use the new Facebook integration just click the “Link to Facebook” button from the Skype homescreen and sign in. The new update will display recent activity from both your Skype contacts and Facebook friends and will offer the ability to comment and Like posts.
Currently there is no way to directly video call your Facebook contacts in this beta. You can only initiate a Skype call with a friend if he or she has Skype contact information listed his or her profile. Your friend will still have to opt in to turn the call into a video call.
In an effort to avoid social overload, Skype’s Contacts page breaks everybody down into categories: Facebook friends, Skype users, and a third tab that is a hybrid of the first two.
One thing that might be a little unnerving about merging your two accounts is the permissions you’d grant to Skype. Before syncing your Facebook account, a permissions screen will pop up asking to access your data anytime, including basic information, check-ins, photos, and videos. Obviously much of this is needed to integrate the two platforms, but it might scare some away.
Another change worth noting is the addition of advertising to Skype’s Home screen. Skype originally introduced its advertising platform in March, but have been rolling it out slowly. This new release will feature more ads, but if you’re a paying customer or have Skype credit you won’t see any display ads.
It’s still too early to tell if the Facebook’s integration will be beneficial. Some social addicts might find it helpful to manage two platforms in one, while others – especially those with hundreds or thousands of Facebook friends – might feel bombarded or overwhelmed. Since it’s still in beta, you won’t be prompted to install the update until it’s rolled through a public release. In the meantime, if you’re interested in giving it a try, you can manually download Skype 5.4.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.