For some, fring coming to the iPhone was old news – there has been a version of fring for jailbroke iPhone since the spring. But for many, like me, the announcement of another Mobile VoIP application – from one of the leading Mobile VoIP providers presented another opportunity to test out the Mobile VoIP capabilities of the iPhone. I have been using the fring iPhone application for the last few days on my first generation iPhone to utilize and manage various communications methods on my iPhone. What follows is my insights and impressions on the fring iPhone application.
For those of you who are not familiar with fring, fring is a mobile internet service and community that allows users to access and interact with a variety of communication services such as Skype®, MSN® Messenger, Google Talk™, ICQ, SIP, Twitter, Yahoo!™, AIM® and any open SIP based VoIP service provider. This makes fring more than a Mobile VoIP service – making it a mobile aggregator of your communications mediums.
In many respects it is difficult to compare and offering such as fring to, say, a truphone, because fring does so much. Thus, the following ratings and commentary are not solely based on it’s Mobile VoIP capabilities, but it’s overall mobile communications capabilities.
As stated above, I used my first generation iPhone with the fring application. Most of my calls were made from either my home, work or a Boingo hotspot. Based on your set-up, your results may very from mine.
- Installation (5/5): Setting up an account is a simple as it gets. Set-up even easier if you already have fring.
- Set-up (3.5/5): One of my biggest peeves about fring is how laborious it is to set-up all the different accounts. To me this is a huge detractor to people actually using the full capabilities of applications like fring that unify messaging – it takes a while to get everything set-up. fring does make it easy to set everything up, but I didn’t see much innovation to make it easier for the user.
- Ease of Use (5/5): User interface easy to use, pretty intuitive and, well, obvious. For all that it does, it is done in an incredibly graceful manner. High five to your interface design guys.
- Call Quality (4/5): I all I placed a dozen or so calls. Three were local, six were national and three others international. The calls were spread across three different SIP accounts of mine and Skype. The SIP account calls fared much better than the Skype ones did – but I could live with the quality – after all it is free.
- Customer Service (5/5): I didn’t have any problems, so they get a high five.
- Price (5/5): Did I mention it was FREE?
- Total Rating: 27.5 out of 30 – that get’s them on the Smith On VoIP honor roll.
I was pretty impressed. It isn’t often that you find one application that is able to do so much – and do it well. I hope these guys don’t go out of business. I think they have an awesome brand, technology and vibe that given enough time to allow for the technology to catch-up to the masses would really resonnate with consumers. Regardless if you are one of those people with a ton of different messenger accounts that they actively use, you will find fring to be an awesome way to manage them while on-the-go. For the rest of you that are looking for plain Mobile VoIP, fring is still an option, though if you are new to the technology, you might want to take a look at the Truphone iPhone application since it doesn’t have all the extras to contend with.