Skype for Mac version 5 was released last week, and while it added group video chat to the popular VoIP applications, it also takes a way a pretty big system feature: the ability for Flash-based app to access the web cam when Skype is running.
Reports of the problem have been flooding into Skype’s developer database since early November, when Skype for Mac 5 was still in beta.
Nonetheless, the problem not only persists in the final version, but according to Skype, the app’s insistence on hogging the camera even when it isn’t being used is by design.
One enraged developer wrote:
This is a very serious issue that is not present in 2.8. How would Skype feel if users were unable to use their webcam with Skype if flash was installed on their machine?
Its perfectly OK for only one application to be able to use the webcam at any one time. But the issue is Skype 5 takes over the webcam even when its not in use. This breaks countless flash applications including mine and is causing us many support calls from users. You have known about this issue since the start of the beta and you have not fixed it. This also affects windows users, its not just Mac.
I have no choice but to tell users to uninstall skype 5 and install skype 2.8 if they want to be able to use webcam in skype and flash.
To be honest, I already disliked Skype’s latest version, which takes an irritating number of cues from the Windows version. This just clinches it: time to roll on back to version 2.8.
Update: Skype has since backpedaled, claiming that it’s a bug after all and will be fixed in a future version. If you use other webcam programs, particularly Flash-based ones, you may want to hold off.