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VoIP + IM

Even if you never use the free Fring app for making VoIP calls using Skype or SIP services, it's still a more than decent app for chatting with friends on multiple IM networks.

Even if you never use the free Fring app for making VoIP or two-ways calls using Skype or SIP services, it's still a more-than-decent program for chatting with friends on multiple IM networks.

Fring helpfully pulls in contacts from your address book so you can choose to chat, call, or place a video call--the latter depending how fast your phone's processor is and if your chat service will support video calling. You'll be able to IM on GoogleTalk, ICQ, Yahoo, Windows Live Messenger (MSN), and AIM, and you can view Twitter messages as well. Unlike Fring on other mobile platforms, this app does not support photo- and file-sharing.

We noticed some sluggishness at times; the lack of emoticons will detract from the experience for some. Video calls were also of inconsistent quality during our tests, though the new functionality does make Fring a more-compelling app than standalone mobile software like Skype mobile, which at the time of review did not support video calls on Android phones. If your phone lacks a front-facing camera, your contacts will have to either look at the nearby scenery through the camera's viewfinder, or you'll have to turn the phone around so they can see you, but you won't be able to see them.

Also missing is a quick, intuitive way to sign on and off chat services in Fring, and a setting to disable Fring from running in the background without logging off. However, Fring's added boost of talking with friends internationally via VoIP over the data connection or Wi-Fi will make up for some flaws.

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