The Facebook chat is barely passable for a ‘Like’, due to the poor implementation and the low level of control you get over contacts and conversations altogether. If you want to really enjoy the Facebook chat experience, fTalk promises to provide the means to decent instant messaging sessions outside the browser, in a faster and more accessible manner.
The people at Facebook immediately realized that the key to being the best and the most popular social network is to constantly improve the mechanisms that keep it safe and alive. With all the security measurements that require intensive care and the great deal of attention that its appearance and looks need, the chat feature is probably at the bottom of the priority list. It shows a great deal, and as a consequence, a lot of criticism is headed in this direction and alternatives are starting to populate the market. fTalk is amongst them and it has the looks, the speed and the essential features that would recommend it as a potential replacement for the Facebook chat.
No costs are involved, aside from the 7.5 MB of disk space you need to provide in order to download the installer. There are no complications regarding the installation process, because it will last no more than a couple of seconds and at the end of it, you will get a ‘Sing in’ window, where you need to provide your Facebook account details. Similar to other Facebook applications, fTalk will request your permission to access your account details, but you have the possibility to turn this down.
As soon as you’re done with this technicality, you should be able to view the main window of the program. In terms of looks, fTalk resembles just about any other chat software seen in the market, so do not expect anything out of the ordinary. The application does not have support for interface customization, such as theme or font choices, so you will have to come to terms with its only face, so to speak.
Despite the lack of possibilities to modify its appearance, you will appreciate the fact that it’s quite organized. In the upper side of the main window, there is a section where the profile photo is displayed and clicking on it will reveal the main and only menu of the software. From here, you will be able to view your online Facebook profile, access the Preferences or sign out. Right next to this button, there is a field that you can use to share a new status, which is great if you don’t want to open your browser to do it.
The rest of the main window is populated with your contacts, divided into two categories: online and offline. Each contact will have their Facebook profile picture attached and right-clicking on any of them will reveal set of options that includes sending an instant message, sending a private message, posting to their wall or viewing their profile or photos. Other than the first of these actions, all of the others are browser based, so accomplishing them will require you to login to your Facebook account.
The only activity that fTalk can perform outside the browser is, as mentioned, the conversation itself. The chat sessions can be started by double-clicking on contacts and this will result in a separate window, where you will be able to send and receive messages, accompanied by emoticons. The design of the conversation window is elegant, tasteful and yet simple, encasing your own and your friend’s photos, as well as quick links to his or her profile, photos or writing them a private message.
An advantage that can’t go without mentioning is that your Facebook contacts don’t even need to have fTalk installed to be able to chat with you, even though you’re not actually logged in the browser. The conversations will be speedy and there will be no limit to the number of characters that you can type. Also, the application will hint you when the other person is typing and will display the time and date of the last message received.
If words are not enough, you may spice up your conversations with emoticons from the selection provided by fTalk. At this stage, there are only nine of them and they come in a larger size than you would normally encounter in a chat application. They are quite expressive and you will probably have a good laugh the first time you see them, but this still doesn’t make up for the fact that there are so very few.
If a contact is offline, you cannot write them a message; in fact, opening a conversation window with an offline friend will result in a pop-up dialog, asking you to recommend fTalk to your acquaintance. However, if you wish not to be bothered with this any longer, you can tick the ‘Don’t ask me again’ box and be done with these nag messages.
An annoying bug that we encountered is that sometimes, the application will display contacts as offline, when they are in fact signed in and you should be able to start a conversation with them. To solve this issue, you can either insist on the F5 key in the main window of the program (this doesn’t always work) or you can try re-singing in for the information to be displayed correctly.
Whenever one of your contacts signs in to Facebook or sends you a message, you will be notified in two ways: by a little window close to the system tray and by a sound. You can change this behavior from the Preferences window of fTalk, where you will also find an option to launch the application at system startup or to hide the emoticons. The Good
fTalk is very comfortable to work with, it provides a much more pleasant and intimate environment than the classic Facebook chat and has the advantage of being a browser independent instant messenger.
The stress on the CPU is barely noticeable and the amount of RAM memory it needs is somewhere below 50 MB.The Bad
The simplicity that fTalk displays does not come off unnoticed feature-wise. It lacks the customization options that other instant messaging applications do offer, such as the possibility to customize its appearance or to choose your own sound files for alerts.
It often displays contacts as offline when they’re actually online and to fix it, you need to resign in. It doesn’t keep a history of your conversations and the emoticon collection is very poor.The TruthfTalk
is not a Facebok client, but it’s definitely a more reliable chat utility than the browser based one. It rises up in a category that is less exploited at this point in time and a possible reason for its lack of features it the scarce competition. Here are some snapshots of the application in action: