If there is one thing that Windows Phone 7 lacks, it’s built in chat support. Hopefully it will come baked in to the OS in a future system update.
WP7 integrates services into things like the contact and photo apps nicely, so it will be interesting to see how Microsoft plugs messaging into its OS.
While we wait for that possibility, there are a few apps on the Windows Marketplace to fill in the gaps for all you GTalkers and Facebook Chat addicts out there, but the problem with most of them is that they do not feature push notifications or even live tiles.
Flory is one of the few exeptions, providing push notifications that alert live tiles on the main screen. So, is it any good?
Well, there is one big problem that I just have to mention before I go, and that is the fact that the app is in German.
The developer recently posted an update to the app that was supposed to have added English language support, but for many, myself included, the update just hasnt worked. Some appear to have English now, but not everyone. I have deleted the app, restarted the phone, redownloaded and reinstalled the app and even messed around with the locale settings, but to no avail.
Hopefully this issue will be sorted soon, but luckily Flory doesnt have too much text, and any that you can’t guess will be fixed by a quick visit to Google Translate.
Ok, when you start the app up you have to create a Flory account, which only takes a moment and is done inside the app, thankfully not routing you to a website.
You can then log in with your chat credentials. GTalk is easy, as you simply enter your details and away you go, but Facebook is a little more tricky.
You can’t log in using your Facebook email address, you have to create a username in Facebook.
To enable Facebook chat, you must first go to the main Facebook website on your PC/Mac, and create a chat username which can be found in your account settings. Log out of Facebook and then log back in to activate the username.
You can then return to Flory and enter your new username and usual facebook password. For example, my Facebook username is ‘simonburns78’, so to log in I had to enter ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ along with my password.
It is a bit convulted, but not really Flory’s fault, although an explanation of this would help when logging in.
Once logged in, the app pulls your online Facebook, GTalk and Flory friends into lists, which is pretty standard, but the Facebook list does take a very long time to populate, even on WiFi. GTalk works fine, however.
One annoying aspect of this app is the fact that, when you log in, there is a red indicator that turns green when you are logged in properly. The indicator is completely non interactive, so you can’t press it and choose different chat statuses, such as ‘Busy’ or ‘Appear Offline’. The only way to log out of individual accounts is to go into the accounts settings, exit the app and then load it back up again. Strange.
In fact, you will find yourself exiting and reopening the app far too often. Things like this reallly should be done on the fly.
The best thing about the app is pinning it as a tile on your home screen, and the number of unread IM’s shows up in the corner of the tile.
This is a great feature, and defines the app. Why can’t more apps do this? Non intrusive, elegant and a brilliant use of WP7, this is the number one reason to get this app.
So, the app has it’s problems. The language barrier, which will hopefully be fixed soon is the main one. Performance issues, lack of status options and having to exit and restart far too often are ofset by the excellent use of WP7’s tile system with unobtrusive notifications.
it’s pretty much your only option at the moment if you want alerts for IM’s, and it’s also free, so lets hope the developer can sort out the apps problems and make this the application it should be.