There are so many instant messaging programs these days, it’s getting hard to keep track of which ones your friends are scattered over. Thankfully though, the task has been made that much easier by the iPhone coupled with free application, Fring.
Frings allows you to instant message your contacts over MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, AIM, Google Talk and also use the chat functions from Twitter. As if that wasn’t enough free ways to keep in touch, you can make free telephone calls to landlines via Skype, MSN or SIP. Making calls this way will bypass your telephone bill by taking advantage of your iPhone’s internet connectivity, making it a potential money saver if you’re out of free minutes.
It all sounds pretty good, so we downloaded the free app and got stuck in. The first thing to do is create a Fring ID, password and nickname all of which can be done in the application interface on your iPhone. When you’ve thought of a suitably witty handle, you’ll be greeted with the menu screen.
At the top of the menu, the ‘add-ons’ function allows you subscribe to the above chat programs and more. Doing so will add any and all buddies, including your telephone contacts, in one handy buddy list.
The application provides histories from both VOIP calls and instant message conversations, making it easy to track chats across different applications. The interface is attractive enough and the bold, simplistic icons make it as easy to use as it is easy on the eye.
The downside is that Fring can sometimes be a little flakey. For example after we had initially signed up to the app and subscribed to MSN, all worked well. However, the next time fired up Fring, it didn’t want to connect to our MSN service and it took a few restarts of the app to jostle it into working correctly. There’s no manual sign in option which is sorely missed in such instances.
The fact that this is a free app makes such mishaps more forgivable and we found it operates smoothly most of the time. Fring is most definitely worth an install if you use any instant messaging programs as having it on your phone could get you out a jam if you needed tor reach someone but kept getting their answer phone.
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Platform: iPhone/iPod touch
Developer: Fringland LTD
Website/Demo: Fring website