updated 01:40 pm EDT, Tue April 15, 2008
VOIP, IM iPhone client
fring on Tuesday today became the latest VoIP application to be made publicly available for Apple's iPhone. The fring beta software, which requires a "jailbroken" iPhone (the company uses "opened" as its euphemism), enables users to talk, chat and interact with other fring users and all of their online communities, using their iPhone's WiFi connection. A light, sneak preview R&D version of the popular mobile VoIP application, developed in conjunction with the Holon Institute of Technology academic research labs in Israel, is now available for use on the iPhone. According to the company, the pre-release version is designed to gather feedback from users; the final version is due for launch later this year.
The fring beta client supports both VOIP and instant messaging through fring, Skype, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, Twitter, Yahoo! and AIM buddies mobile, allowing uses to make free calls over WiFi as well as experience rich, IM-style chat with them using internet connection.
"The special pre-release version will enable iPhone users to get an early taste of fring and discover the freedom of being able to take their fring contacts and buddies from their other favorite online communities mobile on their iPhones," the company said in a statement. "They will also have the ability to make free and low cost mobile calls over WiFi & enjoy rich, IM-style live chat with their online contacts, regardless of whether they are on their mobiles, PC's or other internet devices."
During login, fring automatically creates a single, integrated contact list, combining contacts from all of the users' selected internet communities. The company confirmed that fring is an "always-on, always-connected application" that offers real-time, PC-style "presence" indicators which continually display whether contacts are online, away, offline, in a call, on their mobiles or in front of their PCs.
Early reports indicate that Apple will not allow "always on" applications (i.e, those that run in the background) with its forthcoming iPhone SDK, which is designed allow third-party application without a jailbreak.