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Friday, 19 June 2009

Chats and feeds: eBuddy and FlyScreen

eBuddy mobile phone instant messenger, FlyScreen RSS feed reader

Mobile Java instant messenger eBuddy connects to MSN, Yahoo, AIM, GoogleTalk, ICQ, and Facebook chat. The latest update of eBuddy doesn't bring new features, but the user interface looks a little different now.

With Nimbuzz, fring, Slick and many other Symbian instant messaging programs it doesn't make much sense to use a mobile Java chat app on a Symbian phone, especially with newer Symbian phones that pop up one warning after the other request for permission everytime a mobile Java program wants to do something. And since eBuddy has turned into adware it displays a big, ugly advertisement on your contacts list. Nimbuzz, Slick, Palringo, and Talkonaut are still free of ads, and they can send files and voice messages too.

eBuddy wants you to do an on the fly install from your phone browser, but fortunately there's a way around that. Just go to, select your phone brand and model from the dropdown boxes, and download the jad file that the site offers to your web browser. When you've got the jad file, you can open it with a text editor to read the location of the corresponding jar file, and then download it to your computer.


FlyScreen: not ready yet

FlyScreen is an RSS feed reader with Facebook updates, Twitter, and the weather thrown in as well. You can leave FlyScreen running in the background so you'll always have your updated feeds at your fingertips. In fact, it's hard not to keep FlyScreen running in the background, because the exit option is hidden deep down in the settings menu. Of course you can force FlyScreen to go away with the task manager and delete button, but FlyScreen would definitely benefit from an exit button right inside its main menu.

FlyScreen doesn't do much more than showing links to websites. FlyScreen even launches your web browser when you try to edit your collection of feeds, and even though you're logged into FlyScreen through the FlyScreen program, you'll have to log in again on their website to customise your feeds.

Speaking of logging in, FlyScreen wants you to create an account with your phone number as your username, and they ask for your email address too. There's no need to give them those personal details, because any username that looks like a phone number works, and any non-existing fake email address will do.

The user interface of FlyScreen could be better. The standard 240x320 pixel screen of phones is not big to begin with, and FlyScreen's RSS feed box only fills part of it, with lots of empty space around. Switching between tabs often sends you back to your menu or standby screen when you least expect it. FlyScreen won't let you merge RSS feeds into a single feed, and all your custom feeds are called "Custom RSS" in the header without an option to choose a name yourself. The look and feel of FlyScreen is that of an early beta test application that has a long way to go before you can call it complete.


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