Facebook platform: five apps you'll use again and again

Regular Webware readers who have been playing around with Facebook's new platform will likely recognize many of the sites and services that are offering their own applications. At almost 90 apps (and growing), there are a lot to choose from. After spending the better part of a day experimenting with many of them, I've chosen five of my personal favorites that I think people are bound to use, and come back to in the long haul because they're useful, and that's ultimately what makes repeat users.

Note: The bold links below won't take you right … Read more

Update Roundup: invites, searches, and wiki VoIP

MyPunchBowl adds themes, public events. The invitation service we've been keeping an eye on since its January launch has updated with several user-requested features (75, according to its blog). One of the new additions is themed invitations, a feature we asked for in our original hands-on MyPunchBowl review. Also new is the option to create public events, so people can share a party's URL instead of requiring the host to manually go in and send out invites. Our favorite theme? Pretzel Day.

Clipmarks gets searchy with ClipSearch. Clipmarks, the Web bookmarking service, has added a search engine to … Read more

New YackPack widget does VoIP walkie-talkie style

YackPack, the group Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) chat and messaging service we covered last month, has launched a new zero-configuration widget to complement its chatting service. The new widget can be placed in blogs, Web sites, social networking profiles, and forums--practically anywhere embeds are allowed. It's dead simple with a single button you push to talk with others. There's no registration, and no need to install any software--it just works.

The widget has three flavors: one that starts live (meaning you hear others chatting whether you want to or not), an opt-in that requires user input to begin, and a custom URL version that will work across your entire site, no matter how many different pages you embed it in. In all the versions, there's a small number in the bottom right-hand corner that will let you know how many other people are using the widget. If you've had enough of their chatter, there's an X button on the top right to put the widget to sleep.

The Walkie-talkie widget joins YackPack's YackPlayer widget, which lets users embed and share audio messages in a way similar to Jaxtr's VoiceBlast, which we wrote about earlier this week. See also Snapvine.

We've embedded the widget after the break to speed up our page load, so just click "Read More" to begin chatting with other Webware readers. … Read more

Seven free chat apps to get in touch with other users

Last time we covered services that required no install or downloads to get a chat going. Today we're looking at seven embeddable objects and extensions for your browser or Web site that give you some additional features over those services:

Weezu is a small extension for both Firefox and Internet Explorer that creates a cartoon-like chatting area on the bottom of your browser. Users get their own avatars, and the interface is completely skinnable. Like some of the services we covered in the first chat roundup, Weezu requires no registration to get going.

Me.dium. This plug-in lets you … Read more

Yackpack: Skype meets walkie-talkies [Update x3]

There have been several communication tools on Webware in the last few days. Joining the party is Yackpack, a messaging tool that lets you chat live as a group or swap recorded messages to group members, all within your Web browser.

Yackpack creates a visual chat room for you, with floating faces representing users. Playing and recording messages is handled through a slick and simple player that sits in the top right of the interface. Handling who you are and aren't talking to is as simple as clicking icons. Toggling all group members is managed with a single select … Read more