UDPATE: This app has been renamed “Fone Pro” on the App Store.
There are so many messenger apps on the App Store. I mean, seriously… can developers just stop already! It’s a bit annoying when there are so many things of low quality crowding everything that’s awesome. Luckily, I’m here to help you out with some reviews. To start things off… the new Facebook Messenger App on the App Store.
This App, for starters is developed exclusively for Facebook, and the Facebook team has definitely had a hand in this. Don’t think this is purely third party. Surprisingly, it brings a very unoriginal feature to a messenger app that is used in a very original way. The app allows VoIP calls to your online contacts! That’s not to say to their phones either… it’s a call to their computers.
The process to set things up is simple, and isn’t anything you haven’t done already. You must connect the app to Facebook by simply logging in, and allowing permission for the app to use your information. From there, you must got through a few more screens that allow the app to connect to your friends’ information and to also allow it to access your account on your behalf. Again, these are all things we’ve done before in order to use apps with Facebook.
First thing you’ll notice is that the app is very simple and clean, showing you a list of all your online and offline contacts (with the contacts that are online obviously being at the top). When you click a contact to begin chatting, the app tells you that there is another feature included that you may have missed when buying the app: VoIP calling! We’ll cover more about that in a little bit. For now, lets keep going with the features.
This messenger also allows picture messages via Facebook Chat as well. It’s not a seamless process for the recipient though. The photo upload goes through their web service and is securely stored so that only the recipient of the picture can access it, but they need to click a link provided in the message and download the photo to their computer to see it.
On the bright side though, the options are easily accessible, and very simple to use. Clicking the little arrow in the top right corner of the screen give you a pop-up menu of options to choose from. You can take a new photo, upload an existing photo, or make a call to that person.
So how does the calling feature work? Well, it works over VoIP, meaning you are making phone calls through the internet. This will not use any minutes, but does use your data. Long phone calls could result in higher data usage that you weren’t ready for, especially if you have the 200MB data plan on AT&T.
The Calling feature of the app is very easy to use. Simply hit call, and the recipient is prompted with a window on their computer screen. If they choose to answer it, you’ll be talking to your facebook contact through their computer from your phone. If they don’t have a mic, you obviously won’t be able to hear them. Before you ask… No, this doesn’t support Video Calls.
The call quality is great, however I had a hard time getting around the fact that talking to my roommate from his MacBook Pro gave me my own voice back into my ear much louder than his voice when speaking. It was hard to hear him unless he got right up to the mic. Of course, this could easily be a problem with his computer, but I never experienced this when calling him on Skype in the exact same way. That’s the only reason I mention that… this problem was, at least in my case, exclusive to the facebook phone call.
The VoIP feature is sensational, and it’s only a matter of time for the few bugs that are with it are worked out. It’s important to note that the receiver of the phone call will need ADOBE FLASH 10 in order to open the call. If they don’t have it, tell them to go get it from Adobe for free.
The Facebook Messenger App does exactly what it says it does, but it does have a couple restrictions. The first is that you cannot send messages to offline contacts. So if the person you are chatting with leaves the page, or exits facebook, your message will not just go through to their message inbox like it does on the desktop. This could possibly be a change in the future, but in version 1.0 that’s how it is. Also, you cannot make outgoing calls to people with the Facebook Messenger App from the Computer. Computers can only receive calls, not send them. Even if you know the person has the app and is online, you’ll have to text chat them, and tell them to call you. This, also could be something new coming to Facebook Soon. Who knows.
Still, It serves a great function for those that want to stay connected on Facebook from their phones, and has an auto-log off function that basically ends your online session after a long time away from the app. I rate this app an 8 out of 10, for being a great product with a tiny bit of bugginess to work out, especially with the calling part. It brings an original feature to the facebook messaging scene though, and for that it’s a great app. I dropped it down another point for the price though, being about $1 higher than I think it should be.
Facebook Messenger Costs $2.99 in the App Store and is available right now! (iTunes Link)
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