Talk for free on your phone
- Supports all major chat services
- Twitter client
- Simple-to-use interface
- File transfer
- Lacks advanced IM/VoIP features
- Facebook integration not as good as it could be
fring allows you to make free voice calls, free video calls and chat via instant messaging on your phone.
When I was a boy, the only way of getting in touch with someone was to phone them up, write them a letter, or go to their house. These days though, there are countless different new ways to communicate thanks to email, instant messaging, VoIP, social networks, and the like.
This is great, but it does pose problems in that it's often difficult to work out the best way to reach someone. You might have separate buddy lists for Skype, Google Talk, Yahoo!, MSN, and Facebook, and constantly logging in, launching apps and finding your online pals can be a real chore. fring is designed to change all that, providing you with a single platform, based on your mobile, where all of your online friends are available in one place.
fring supports most of the major chat services including Skype, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, Yahoo!, and AIM. You can also use the program to check Facebook updates, view Twitter feeds, and even listen to music with friends on Last.fm.
The application is simple to install and set up. Once you've registered for a fring account you can import your online contacts very easily. You just go to the 'Add-ons' section, click a service you want to access (e.g. Skype, Yahoo!) and sign in using your normal log-in for that account. The contacts are automatically pulled into fring and displayed in the main window, and you can quickly view who is online and who isn't.
Not only can you chat via instant messages but fring also lets you make cheap or free calls to your buddies via SkypeOut/SkypeIn. This means you can ring people from your phone's contacts locally or internationally, at vastly reduced rates. Of course, you'll need to be in a WiFi hotspot for this to be of any benefit but thankfully, fring comes with a tool for automatically logging you into your favorite hotspots.
There are a few extra chat features of note within fring, such as file transfer and a history view. However, its functionality is still vastly inferior to what you'd expect from most of the chat services themselves. For instance, there are no emoticons, games, etc.
One great thing about the latest version of fring is that it now introduces video calling. This is an excellent feature and very easy to use. You just click the Video call in the Call menu and you'll be able to teleconference with the person you're calling. Of course, you will only see them if they are running fring on a supported device, but it's great fun and the streaming quality is pretty smooth (although, obviously the quality depends on the phone you're using).
This latest version of fring integrates Facebook and Twitter 2.0 support. The Facebook feature permits you to do a lot of the things you can do on Facebook (send messages, browse statuses, view photos, etc.), via a condensed interface built into fring. Unfortunately, the Facebook section can be painfully slow at times. It's a shame too, that there's no integration with Facebook chat. It would've been nice to have your Facebook contacts who are online show up in your list of fring contacts.
Overall though, fring makes for a great way to manage all of your contacts on all of your networks from one, easy-to-use application.