Instant messaging from Facebook

You won't find any revolutionary features with Facebook Chat IM, a free instant messaging program, but it does give you a way to easily interface with your Facebook friends.

The free instant messaging tool presents an interface that anyone who has used an IM program will understand. Even those with no experience using an instant messenger will find the simple, clean interface easy to follow. There's a field for your message, a Send button -- all you need to instantly keep up with what your Facebook pals are doing. And you'll find all the staples of instant … Read more

Skype upgrades interface, adds touch-screen features

A popular choice for VoIP users and those who make international and video calls, Skype (free for iPhone or iPad) received a few improvements that tweak the interface and give you more control over your video calls.

The overall interface has been slightly tweaked to look a bit smoother with a new header and buttons that are more aesthetically pleasing and better match the colors of the rest of the interface. The contact view now shows more contacts on screen, with smaller icons that don't take up as much space as they did in previous versions.

The most noticeable new enhancement is the ability to touch and drag your video preview (the picture in picture view where you can see yourself during a video call) so you can move it anywhere on the screen during a call.… Read more

Paltalk offers all-in-one communications

Paltalk Messenger streamlines communication by putting instant messages, video chats, voice calls, and SMS all into a single user interface. While it may not be the most user-friendly program out there, it's certainly one of the more powerful.

If you've used an IM client like Trillian or Pidgin, then Paltalk's interface should feel familiar, with its vertical towerlike orientation, list of contacts, and status bar. The difference is that Paltalk does a lot more than those programs do--which is good. So, in addition to the typical IM contact list, there's a Chat Room panel, as well … Read more

Chat on the go with Pidgin Portable

Pidgin Portable is a fully portable version of Pidgin, the unified chat app formerly known as GAIM. It handles multiple instant messaging accounts in one simple interface, including not only the big names like AOL, Yahoo, MSN, and ICQ but also less common networks such as Jabber, SILC, XMPP, and MXit. Like the standard installed version, Pidgin Portable is freeware, but its portability means you can take your IM account settings and buddy lists with you on a USB drive. It handles many plug-ins, including encryption tools.

Since PortableApps converted Pidgin, we were confident that the portable version would download … Read more

Google TV adds gaming with OnLive

Verizon goes all in for 4G, the first Android watch is pleasing on the eyes, and Google TV adds cloud gaming from OnLive.

Links from Thursday's episode of Loaded, from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:

OnLive gaming comes to Google TV It's all 4G for Verizon Sony prototype tablets Sony Music Unlimited coming to iOS New Amazon e-book programing tools. Bing surpasses Yahoo!. The first Android watch. Subscribe:  iTunes (MP3)iTunes (320x180)iTunes (HD)RSS (MP3)RSS (320x180)RSS HD

Microsoft opens instant-messaging for all comers

In a move that would have been shocking a decade ago, Microsoft has made it possible for others' instant-messaging software to tap into its Windows Live Messenger.

Instant-messaging networks--the big ones are run by Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL--once were well-defended strongholds, and developers of third-party programs like Trillian had to work hard to reverse-engineer their inner workings. But whatever residual excitement IM possessed has faded as new communication methods such as Facebook and Twitter have seized the spotlight.

I'm inclined to blame the companies involved. Had they banded together on a standard, IM could have become a staple of … Read more

IM+ for Android jumps to 5.0

IM+, the popular instant-messaging application for Android, jumps to version 5.0 today, bringing with it a revamped tablet-optimized interface, improved battery usage, and several other really nifty features.

Beyond its shiny new interface, the big addition to IM+ is its support for Android's native Share tool. Now you can select text from other apps or your browser and easily add it to an instant message through IM+. Sure, this seems like a basic feature, but that's precisely why it's a big deal that IM+ is finally getting it.

Additionally, IM+ now offers group chats for AIM, … Read more

Samsung unveiling its own instant messaging tool

Samsung is jumping into the instant messaging market with a new IM tool destined for a variety of feature phones and smartphones.

The Korean mobile phone maker's new and free ChatOn IM client is designed to be cross-platform, allowing users of a wide range of phones to be able to chat with family, friends, and colleagues. The service will be preinstalled on Samsung's feature phones as well as smartphones running both Android and the company's own Bada mobile OS, according to Reuters.

But it will also be available as a free download for other mobile platforms, including … Read more

Facebook rolls out standalone mobile-chat app

Facebook today doubled down on its mobile efforts with a new mobile application that breaks out its messaging service into a single app.

Dubbed "Messenger," Facebook is making the app available for both Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Users can log in with their Facebook credentials to get access to existing chats and message threads from Facebook for interacting with them on the go. Included is group messaging, along with a component that lets users share photos and their location.

"The Messenger app is an extension of Facebook messages, so all your conversations are in … Read more

Skype update connects you deeper with Facebook

Skype has released the latest update to its online calling software for Windows, offering more options for Facebook users.

Officially out of beta since Wednesday, the latest Skype 5.5 for Windows lets you check which of your Facebook friends are online and available to chat, all without having to leave Skype. Simply clicking on the View menu in the Skype software and then choosing Facebook Friends shows you the list.

By clicking on and then closing the Skype Home screen, you can also update your Facebook status and scroll down to view your entire Facebook wall.

Beyond the Facebook … Read more