Matt is the former News Editor for The Next Web. You can follow him on Twitter, subscribe to his updates on Facebook and catch up with him Matt is the former News Editor for The Next Web. You can follow him on Twitter, subscribe to his updates on Facebook and catch up with him on Google+.
Fone is an iOS application that brings free VOIP calling and advanced messaging features to iPhone and iPod Touch users who want to speak or message their friends wherever they are.
Downloadable now from the App Store, Fone builds upon Facebook’s in-built chat client, allowing users to share pictures from their photo albums, browse their message history, view their friends profiles and use emoticons.
The app utilises Apple’s push-notifications, updating friend lists in real-time (so you know when a friend is logging on or off), delivering sound alerts whilst running in the background courtesy of its multi-tasking support.
Fone, developed by CrispApp, uses the official Facebook API to connect to your account, enabling chat and voice call functionality without having to trust a third-party with your login information.
Using the application is really easy. Upon downloading, simply click the Facebook Connect button and allow the application to obtain the necessary permissions to connect to your account.
Once permitted, the application then lists all of your Facebook friends and groups them according to how you organised your friends on the social network, listing both online and offline contacts.
To chat to a contact, tap on their name and a new chat window will open, allowing you to choose whether to chat or to call them. Clicking chat will bring up a keyboard, allowing you to start an instant messaging session, whereas clicking call will begin a voice call allowing you to chat to your friends whether they are connected on their iPhone, iPod Touch or via the Facebook website.
If two iPhone or iPod Touch users are using the app, the call is initiated between the two devices but if the recipient is using their desktop computer, they are sent a unique link requesting a chat session that connects using the users’ browser.
During out tests, the call quality was reasonable, although we did notice some lag between communications. However, when we tried this again, the call quality was drastically improved. We tested the call over a Wi-Fi connection.
Users can browse websites within the application, useful when links are sent via an IM session. Images can also be shared using the camera roll or via a live shot, something that Facebook’s own application doesn’t offer itself.
Fone is $0.99 on the App Store and is available to download now – it’s a fantastic addition your iPhone or iPod Touch, especially if you can’t be away from your Facebook friends for more than a couple of minutes.
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