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REVIEW: Another great, multiplatform instant messenger client: Palringo

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#1
Menneisyys

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Instant Messaging is, as with, for example, Web browsers, is a constantly improved area of mobile platforms. This means we’re getting newer and newer instant messenger apps all the time.

Palringo is the newest application to enter the Windows Mobile / Symbian instant messaging world. It, despite of being new, is already is a decent contender really worth paying attention to. Their free (!), multiplatform IM client, Palringo, is certainly worth paying attention to because it has some goodies not present in (most) other instant messenger clients.

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(VGA Pocket PC)
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(Symbian s60v3)
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(176*220 MS Smartphone)

(Current, tested versions: Windows Mobile: 10/25/2007; Symbian s60v3: 0.96 (11) 10/08/2007. Test devices: Pocket PC (HTC Universal, HTC Wizard), MS Smartphone (HTC s310, s710) and Symbian s60v3 (Nokia N95).)

Getting, using

You can download it HERE. Enter your e-mail address twice. It can be arbitrary – that is, on any other server; it must, however, be an existing one so that you can activate the account. Also, create the password you’d like to use with the client. After submitting the info (and signing in with this), you’re taken to the Download page, where just click the “Download” button or buttons, if you select clients for multiple operating systems. Currently, three operating systems are supported: Windows Mobile (Smartphone and Pocket PC), desktop Windows and Symbian S60v3. They also promise a MIDlet (Java) version of their client, bringing IM support to even “dumb” phones, Blackberries and Palm OS-based devices.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to use desktop download / installation, you can fill in your phone number if you want a direct installation link to be sent to you per SMS.

After installing and starting the client, select Menu / Palringo / Online. Enter the e-mail / password pair you’ve registered yourself first at Palringo.

Then, you’ll need to add services to your account. You may want to do this on your desktop computer (with the desktop version if you don’t have a remote controller tool like the excellent Pocket Controller) if you don’t have a decent keyboard for your phone. If you do this on the desktop, the added service accounts will be immediately synchronized to your mobile (and vice versa – and, of course, between mobile phones as well).

Palringo is interoperable with MSN, Yahoo, AIM, GG (Gadu-Gadu), ICQ and XMPP (Jabber). That is, after selecting Menu / Add Service, select the one you’d like to use from the list and, then, just fill in the service login / password as can be seen in HERE. Now, you’ll be logged in. Note that you can add other service accounts any time; you’ll be able to switch between them on the main dialog.

You’ll soon notice Palringo supports multiple logins. Very few IM clients allow the user to log in with multiple accounts into a given IM network: currently, only the, otherwise, not very good Causerie and the band new, beta version of Shape Services’ well-known IM+ for MS Smartphones. (See THIS and THIS threads; their Smartphone homepage is HERE; note that the current (4.45 and 6.15, respectively) PPC and Symbian S60v3 versions still don’t support multiple logins). In THIS screenshot (the same made on a 176*220 Smartphone is HERE and you can see I’ve already logged in with three MSN accounts, and I can still add more MSN accounts by selecting Add Service.

In this respect, therefore, Palringo is without doubt the best.

In addition, it supports groups (pretty much like on the IRC), which is a great way to meet friends or people and is increasingly used by some user communities like that of the infamous XDA-Developers. You can, of course, both create a new or join an existing group. Some screenshots of joining a group: 1 2 3 4 – it’s certainly worth giving a try!

Voice clips, camera stills, clickable links, copy/paste

As with several other clients, it supports sending voice clips. As opposed to, say, Fring (which is without doubt the best IM app in this respect), and just like with Microsoft’s Live Messenger on Windows Mobile (but not on the desktop, where full voice chat is supported), you can only use voice clips, not real-time VoIP. (And, of course, this only works in one direction with non-native Palringo receivers like MSN.) The voice codec is Speex-based, which means it works with acceptable upload speed even over GPRS, while maintaining pretty good sound quality.

Links are clickable on all platforms - certainly good news.

You can paste into the text input field and you can also copy the contents of individual messages (Pocket PC – a HTC Wizard – screenshot HERE). This is good news for Symbian S60 / MS Smartphone (platforms lacking a touchscreen and its mass-selecting capabilities) users but not very good for Pocket PC users, which may want to make mass selection upon wanting to, say, save an entire conversation to a file in one step.

Logging, history

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to log conversations on Windows Mobile at all. On Symbian, however, there’s a separate menu item in the chat window, Options / View Older Messages (or, alternatively, activating the thin bar at the top – in the screenshot, it’s purple-colored). This will retrieve the message from the server, which may take some time, particularly if you retrieve a voice clip or an image.

(Windows Mobile users, see the point in providing Symbian info in my articles? The previous paragraph was one of the tidbits that REALLY make it worth discussing multiple operating system versions at the same time. It’s certainly worth knowing the Symbian version is better in this respect – then, you can “push” the developers to implement the same functionality in the Windows Mobile port as well.)

The problem with this kind of logging is that you must retrieve all older messages one by one by either selecting Options / View Older Messages all the time or, better, pressing the bar. In addition, as the old messages / images / voice clips are all stored on the server, it may take some time to retrieve them. However, it’s still better than nothing at all. Still, in this respect, there’re much more advanced IM clients; most importantly, mov Messenger (for both platforms under Windows Mobile).

Notification, vibration, Pocket PC suspended state, Unicode

It seems to support system-level settings on all Windows Mobile devices (as opposed to Symbian); for example, it had no problems with vibration on the HTC Universal and HTC Wizard PPC. I’ve encountered no vibration and/or system-level audio / vibration switching problems with the HTC Oxygen (s310) and HTC Vox (s710) MS Smartphones either. Notification bubbles / taskbar icons are supported on Pocket PC’s; a taskbar icon is supported on the Smartphone platform; they’re all animated. Notification LED’s are also used.

No such icons under Symbian (for example, on the Standby screen), though.

I haven’t had any problems with receiving notifications on Pocket PC’s in suspended state (tested on the HTC Wizard and Universal), which is certainly very good news, battery life-wise. Of course, always-on platforms not using a suspended state (Symbian, MS Smartphone) have worked all the time.

It has no problems with Unicode chars in either direction (tested with MSN).

Symbian issues (and goodies)
  • While I had no problems with vibrating alarm (in “Meeting” mode) on ALL of my Windows Mobile devices, it didn’t work on my Nokia N95.
  • The camera interface is inaccessible under Symbian as can be seen in HERE (before capturing – as can be seen, no interface is accessible, unlike under WM – I’ve tested this on all the three WM test devices), HERE (after capturing) and HERE (transferring the resulting shot) but NOT under WM (example screenshot, taken on the Oxygen, HERE and HERE – incidentally, they show my Universal and N95, both running Palringo), where the real interface is used. This means for example the inability to manually switch to macro mode, switch off the flash etc.
  • Fortunately, under Symbian, you can set a default access point so that the client can automatically reconnect as can be seen in THIS screenshot. Incidentally, this shot also shows that under Symbian, you can independently set the notification volume, unlike under WM.
  • Also, on Symbian, it isn’t shut down when the free RAM decreases. This is a definite plus on RAM-lacking models like the Nokia N95.
Windows Mobile issues, CPU / memory benchmarks

I’ve had no problems at all. It worked on all my test devices I’ve installed it on (HTC Universal VGA Pocket PC, HTC Oxygen / s310 WM5 176*220 and HTC Vox / s710 QVGA Smartphones) in both Portrait and Landscape orientations. There were no keyboard problems at all and no orientation change flaws; not even on the Vox (which, before the latest version of mov Messenger, had caused problems to the latter.)

CPU / memory usage while actively waiting for incoming messages: 0% and 300…700kbytes on WM, independent of the “Power/Data Saving Mode” checkbox in Settings. That is, very good.

Some other screenshots

Contact list (on a 176*220 MS Smartphone)

Adding a contact: 1 2

Chatting interface on Symbian

Photo, clickable and voice clip sending works from Palringo to MSN – but, of course, not in the other direction.

Verdict

This is an excellent IM client all supported mobile platforms (Windows Mobile Smartphones and Pocket PC’s and Symbian), particularly if you look for a client capable of joining pre-existing IRC-like groups like that of XDA-Devs and/or want a messenger application capable of multiple logins to the same network. It’s only the lack of logging and copying large blocks (not just one row) of text on touchscreen-enabled platforms (Pocket PC) that I really miss.

Related (Windows Mobile-only) articles

The MS Smartphone Instant Messaging Bible

The Pocket PC Instant Messaging Bible (Cross-posts: PPCT, MobilitySite, AximSite, XDA-Developers - 1, XDA-Developers - 2, FirstLoox, BrightHand, HowardForums, TheSmallPicture)

A pretty nice list & quick comparison of the brand new (year 2007) IM apps (that is, Octro, Mundu and Palringo.)

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#2
PaulOBrien

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Don't forget the 'modaco' group :(

P

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#3
Menneisyys

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Don't forget the 'modaco' group :(

P


Cool, I'll also include this in the next update.

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#4
Menneisyys

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UPDATE (02/27/2008): there's a great review of the app HERE. There's some user feedback worth checking out HERE and HERE. Also note that MoDaCo also has a Palringo usergroup.

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#5
Dido San

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So is this appz safe to use?? AS you know that once we key in our password and username, it would be routed to their server and verify our password before anything else.... :).

Hope that it's safe to use since this appz is very useful :(

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