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Interview with Alex Nerst on Fring add-ons
In a way the smartphone edition of Fring is a unique piece of software – in fact it’s nearly the only mobile messaging client that supports a couple of voice and text transfer protocols. We have a multitude of articles about this application, so there has to be a really solid reason for us to make up another article about it. And we actually have one.
Some time ago the developers heralded the release of fringAPI that allows third-party companies and users to integrate their WEB-applications into fring. In other words, any owner of some web site can now put together several lines of code and thus enable his site for all users of this messaging client. Furthermore, people over at fring promised to throw a couple of add-ons into the application to show they worked. It’s been just shy over two weeks since this announcement and indeed these days any user of fring can try out several mail servers and social networks (including Yandex Mail, Gmail, Vtap Videos, Orkut, Facebook) right within the application.
To integrate new add-ons you just need to go to the Options/Channel Management menu, tick the items you need, submit all essential data and after that the channel will pop up in your contact list as a separate entry.
All mail-related add-ons deliver new mail notifications to your phone and using social networking add-ons you will be able to trade messages with friends and send photos right from your mobile phone.
This way, fring has managed to foray into the field of personal mail and social networks – in fact there has never been a proper mobile client to handle them all. All in all, watching over the evolution of this application has always been a treat – it all started with a mobile VoIP client, then they merged it with mobile messengers, such as ICQ and Yahoo, and now they are up to social networking, which makes fring a very powerful and promising offering on today’s market.
In view of all these things we’ve decided to sit down with one of fring’s founders – Alex Nerst (below is the original text of Mr. Nerst’s answers).
1. First of all, let’s talk about your open API - is this just a tactical move to attract new users, or a strategic decision and a part of fring’s overall development strategy? What do you think the main difference between fring and other similar applications is?
fring aims to provide a complete mobile internet experience to its users. VOIP, IM and contact lists were the initial core services provided by fring. The next stage is to provide additional internet experiences on top of the basic capabilities. We will develop additional ways for fring user’s to experience the internet, but we believe many more will be provided by independent third parties using the fring API. We provide the API on very flexible basis: it is available free of charge and we do not limit any commercial use of the API and fring add-ons. This means developers are free to monetize their fring add-ons via subscription or ad-based models as they see fit, without any consideration being due to fring. The fring API is the facilitator of our vision to provide the complete mobile internet experience for our users.
It should be understood that the fring API is not a replacement for general rich mobile internet platforms such as Flash Lite and Silverlight but rather focuses on allowing developers to leverage fring’s unique features such as aggregated communities, always-on connectivity, native mobile application GUI, and device integration in order to provide their internet services and applications as fring add-ons.
2. How difficult is it to integrate networks such as “Odnoklassniki”, “Vcontakte”, etc into fring via fringAdd-ons?
It took us about a month to develop and implement the fring add-on for Facebook; I believe it will take similar effort to implement fring add-ons for other social networks.
3. As fring becomes an application that allows accessing the "big Internet" from a small device, is there any chance we will see some popular music services (such as iTunes, Nokia Music, etc) embedded into fring via fringAdd-ons?
Media, entertainment and media streaming services are logical add-ons for fring, vTap video services is an example of such integration.
4. Do you have any plans to release fring for Windows (XP/Vista)? This question is brought about by the fact that notebooks and UMPC users could really use an application like this. And will we see a Linux-based client (maemo, Nokia N810) any time soon?
We are working on a Linux version of fring and it will be released in the not too distant future; it will support the Nokia N810 device. We are continually reviewing the platforms supported by fring, and delivering new versions as each platform proves to be successful and popular with mobile users.
5. What new features should we expect from fring in the near future?
6. How many people, in your estimation, use fring on a regular basis?
The fring network adds around 200K new registered mobile users worldwide monthly.
7. Who are your main partners in Russia?
Our current partners in Russia are GoldenWiFi, Sipnet and I-free. A few more partners in the web and telecoms areas will announce their fring based services shortly.
8. A few words to all readers of Mobile-Review.com
If you are an end user, use fring in a creative way, enjoy it and let us know your experience and what more you want us to do.
If you are developer try our API and let us know about your cool add-ons, it will bring benefits to you and fring users. And in both cases take your internet mobile with fring, and enjoy some fringing freedom.
Wrapping it all up, I shall note that all add-ons mentioned in this article work properly and are generally bugless, they are available for the application’s UIQ, Windows Mobile and Symbian 9 editions.
Published 10 July 2008
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