FWD .Communicator 0.99.1
- Integration with Skype and IM clients
- Inconsistent and buggy
When they get this one right it will be top of the class. Look out for new versions.
Price$ None (AUD)
FWD.Communicator (short for Free World Dialer) is a combination SIP and proprietary client which allows FWD users to call other FWD users and users of any SIP phone. The novelty of FWD.Communicator lies in its integration with other client software for a richer experience.
The most interesting feature of FWD.Communicator is the send "Call-me link" option. This emails a link to a web page that allows any user with a Windows XP machine to communicate with the sender without the need to install any client - perfect for starting a conversation with a friend who mightn't have thought about using a VoIP client. In this sense, FWD allows the user to communicate with far more people than just FWD users and SIP clients. They extend this paradigm with integration for IM clients - Yahoo!, ICQ, MSN, AOL, Jabber and Google. This promises to not only show buddy status on the IM networks, but to allow the FWD user to host a cross-network chat. For example, and FWD user could chat with users on ICQ and MSN and all participants in the chat seeing messages as though all users are on the same network.
While this sounds like a great benefit, we couldn't get it to integrate with either of two IM networks we subscribe to. The log file shows unintelligible errors for now - we can only hope this is fixed in a future release. In addition, FWD includes the concept of shared buddy lists which allow for social networking - a user's buddy list can be made available to all their buddies. While an interesting idea, most users will likely be relieved to know that this is optional.
FWD can also be used to control Skype. It can control the Skype application to make calls and to show Skype buddy status. This is an excellent idea and when combined with the IM integration could bring a very useful integrated client - one window open instead of two or three and at-a-glance status of contacts over all the IM networks and Skype would make this application highly addictive to many wired individuals.
The client itself has a very simple, yet unfortunately slugglish interface. It seems to use a large amount of memory, no doubt increased with each integration that is configured. It isn't elegant though, and the buddy list/address book is awkward to configure and inconsistent in behavior. For example, users that aren't perfectly added just disappear without any explaination or error. However, it has some good ideas like the ability to configure alerts for each buddy - on sign on, sign off, away or returning from away it can play sounds, pop up alerts or send the buddy a message. Neat! Individual ringtones for each buddy are also possible. The client also supports RSS feeds which should make news junkies happy.
Like many other clients, FWD also includes the ability to connect to POTS services to make calls to regular telephones around the world for a fee.
FWD.Communicator looks like it will be an excellent client, but it isn't quite ready yet.
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