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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

New fat fring: a lot bigger, a little better

fring instant messaging, VoIP, chat, SIP, Skype, GMail
Just arrived: the new improved version of multi-network instant messenger program, GMail notifier, VoIP application, Skype client, and Facebook tool fring.

What's new?

The download is a little bigger than it used to be. Once installed on my Nokia, fring 3.36 occupied no less than three times more space than version 3.35: fring grew from barely 0.75 MB to well over 2 MB. If you have an older phone with fierce competion for real estate on your overcrowded internal phone memory, you may want to relocate fring to the roomy suburbs of your memory card. If you're low on RAM, fring alternative Nimbuzz could be for you.

What do we get for those extra bits and bytes? As promised by fring on their blog, the user interface looks a little sexier. The program launches with a list of your contacts. Nothing new here, so on to the next step: the add-ons tab. This screen lists all the instant messaging and VoIP services with colorful icons, little green checkmarks to indicate services you're subscribed to, and a new menu option to make those icons and the text that sits next to them very big.

You can scroll through the tabs with your navigation button or move straight to any tab (including open chat windows) with the "go to" entry in the options menu.

Fring also promised some bug fixes under the hood. These are invisible, but I trust they're there anyway.

A few suggestions for a future better fring:
1) Move the "go to" entry one or two flights up in the options menu of the add-ons tab. I'm sure people will use this feature way more often than the icon size toggler that currently lives near the top floor.
2) Add a bit more info to the "about" screens of the add-ons. There's plenty of space over there, so why not make it show which user account is used, and which VoIP provider is programmed to handle your SIP calls?
3) Put the settings, change connection, help, and exit entries in the options menu of the add-ons tab too.
4) Storing multiple SIP accounts... don't you think it's about time, fringers?

Fring is a great all-in-one instant messenger/Skype client/VoIP application. VoIP calls on Skype and SIP sound better with Nimbuzz, and instant messaging works better on IM+ (expensive) or Slick (free while beta testing lasts). But when it comes to combining text chats, voice calls, and file transfers in one single program that doesn't cost a penny, fring is still the best Jack of all trades.

fring site with all info and download details
straight to the fring download page (tip: you don't need to enter a real email address in the "get fring via PC" box)

Update: fring is no longer a multi-network messenger. They kicked 'em all out, fring now only works on it's own fring network. My advice: don't use fring.

the competition (which is certainly not sleeping):
Nimbuzz for instant messaging, Skype, and other VoIP services
Talkonaut for instant messaging and VoIP, but not for Skype


Anonymous said...

Is 7 EUR (Nokia Software Market) for IM+ for Skype really expensive?

frequent voipuser said...

Nimbuzz is free and works with lots of other VoIP services in addition to Skype.

That can make a big difference. For example, I often call to italian and portugese mobile phones. Skype: €0.27 per minute. VoipCheap charges less than half of that: €0.12 per minute.

7 Euros for IM+ is not a lot, but if competitors like Nimbuzz and fring give you more options for free...