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 a variety of networks 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, and view Twitter feeds.
Registering or signing in for a fring account is a bit of a chore in this version of fring. It often fails to recognize correct user details and can take an age to connect even when it does.
Once you're in, however, you can import your online contacts very easily. You just go to the Add-ons section within the More menu, 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 on the Buddy list, 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. You can make fring calls over both WiFi and 3G.
fring also supports video chat over VoIP, and this latest version supports up-to four-way video calling for OS 4. One great thing about the video chat feature is that it is compatible with other versions of fring, such as the Android or Symbian incarnations. This means you can video conference with buddies regardless of the phone they use.
Chat features in the iPhone version of fring are few and far between. For instance, there’s no file transfer, emoticons, or games, which is a bit of a shame.
This latest version of fring integrates Twitter support. The new social stream feature within fring allows you to view Twitter feeds, Facebook updates and fring activity all through one neatly-organized window.
Overall, fring makes for a great way to manage all of your contacts on all of your networks from one, easy-to-use application. Just don’t expect the level of features you’d normally get from your chat clients, though.