Fring sounds like a word that’s not far off becoming street slang for something cool. It’s actually an application that we’re extremely keen on because it ties together a few of our favourite messaging platforms for free.
Once installed, you’ll find there’s no further interaction with the website necessary as an account is created on the handset itself. From there, you just need to decide which of the supported platforms you’d like to use. Fring will help you keep in touch with friends through Skype, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Twitter, ICQ, SIP, Yahoo, AIM, Orkut, Facebook, Last.FM and more.
By using a tabbed interface, the experience of running multiple chats across different messaging platforms is made far less daunting. One tab remains open to manage accounts, and then a new tab appears for each person you initiate conversation with. Tabs are navigated between using the left and right keys, whilst up and down scrolls through the timeline of the current conversation. We especially liked the icons at the top of the screen to remind you which platform is in play.
One of the tabs will load the contacts from your SIM card and mix those names with profiles from the services it has connected you to. In addition, Fring will capture your latest call history and load the list in a tab, making it faster to re-find any number and return a call.
When scrolling through the list of contacts, it’s not immediately obvious that you need to pay attention to what service icon is next to the contact. Seeing a telephone number doesn’t necessary mean it will use your phone to connect, it will also give you the option of say, SkypeOut. Similarly, you will be giving messaging options such as using Twitter or MSN.
Something we certainly hadn’t expected from Fring was the ability to send files. Using Skype, we were able to send not only photos taken on the phone’s camera, but video and audio files. Unfortunately Skype seems to be the only current platform supported with others suggesting that the feature hadn’t been implemented “yet”.
Loading Twitter in a tab is chaotic. The “chat only” tab has no avatars or even a line to separate one tweet from the next – you’ll need reading glasses and a frown on to really interpret any new messages. Quite without warning the tab will reload, losing your place entirely.
The latest update of Fring has included an extra “Twitter 2.0” tab which includes avatars along side tweets, but we found it slow to load and fairly pointless. Whilst it is disappointing that this aspect of Fring fails to meet the standard of other clients for Twitter, every other function impressed us and there are many other Twitter clients available.
There are some obvious similarities between Fring and the INQ1 mobile phone interface, being a gateway to all the services you require – including standard phone calls. This cuts down on the number of applications installed and running simultaneously without removing features. Fring is free, so try it – you might like it.
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Platform: Symbian S60
Website/Demo: Fring website