Fring VoIP, chat client app goes mainstream

Application connects the iPhone to pretty much every real-time communications product there is.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman

The iPhone app Fring--which acts as a VoIP client for Skype and other Internet phone networks, as well as a voice and chat interface into IM networks like AIM and Yahoo--is now available for free to everyone.

Previously, it only ran on "jailbroken" iPhones, severely limiting its audience.

Fring places calls on cellular or VoIP networks. Fring

On the iPhone, Fring can read both your IM and Skype buddy lists, as well as the contacts in your phone's address book. And when you select a contact, you get the option of calling him or her by SIP call, Skype, or standard cellular. VoIP calls obviously don't count against your cellular minutes, but you do need to have a Wi-Fi connection to make the calls.

The biggest challenge for Fring users is that when the app is not actively running in the foreground on your phone, it can't notify you of incoming calls or chats or indicate your presence to buddies. Apple has yet to provide background notification capability to iPhone developers, although we keep hearing it will be in an upcoming release.

Although all iPhone communication apps remain hobbled until background processing is available, Fring does appear to be the most capable voice and text chat app there is for the device, and it's well worth installing.

Fring is also available for several other mobile platforms.

See also: Palringo.