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Semifunctional Facebook

Chat with Facebook friends outside of Facebook--sort of.

Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, and the site's chat feature makes it possible for users to talk to everyone from their third-grade best friend to their spouse, all in real-time. Unfortunately, using Facebook's chat keeps you tethered to the window or tab in which you have Facebook open. Facebook Chat, a browser extension for Chrome, endeavors to change that. And it succeeds, at least partially.

The extension sounded promising. By simply clicking the small icon it places next to Chrome's address bar, users can bring up a version of Facebook's chat interface, including a list of friends and a space for sending and receiving messages. That part worked well enough, but for a program that's supposed to allow you the freedom of chatting outside the Facebook Web site, it has a lot of room for improvement. Every time we switched to another application, or even another tab within Chrome, Facebook Chat closed and had to be reopened. That's perhaps more annoying than just staying in Facebook to begin with. The extension's interface offers other features that were just plain dysfunctional; allegedly you can access your messages or friend requests from within the extension, but clicking on any of these links results in portions of normal Facebook windows opening in tiny, unnavigable frames within the Facebook Chat interface. Overall, we found Facebook Chat to be partially functional, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

Facebook Chat is free. It installs and uninstalls without issues. We recommend this extension with reservations.

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