Apps you freaked out with back in the day: Fring

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In this series we remember applications from the past that were very popular and are not so popular anymore. After remembering Camera Zoom FX, Titanium Backup, Swype, Word Lens and others, today it is Fring’s turn, one of the first messaging and video calling apps we had on Android.

Fring is one of the oldest applications that we have remembered in this series, since it was launched in 2007 on Symbian. Later it would make the jump to Android, where it was used to chat in one central place with all your accounts messaging, such as Yahoo! or Messenger. What Happened to Fring?


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What was special about it?

Today WhatsApp, Telegram and other messaging applications take the leading role, but in the early days of Android, desktop messaging applications, such as Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk or Skype. Fring was part of the line of multi-messaging apps.

That is, you could log in with your account at ICQ, Yahoo !, AIM, Google Talk or MSN Messenger and then see all your unified contacts, being able to communicate with them regardless of where they are. In other words, it stopped fragmentation in messaging applications.

Ring In Fring, you could chat with friends on different chat networks, from one central place

Fring was by no means the only cross-platform application. In his time, others like Trillian, Nimbuzz, eBuddy Messenger or Meebo They started from the same premise. Many of them, like Fring, they were born on Symbian, and later they released their version for Android.

Fring was an app to chat with your friends on the main messaging networks, and one of the first to bring group video calls to Android

While many of these cross-platform applications were relatively straightforward, allowing for text chat and little else, Fring supported calls and video calls, including group video calls of four, back in 2011 and compatible with Android 1.5.

Video calls Fring was a pioneer app in group video calls. They came to Android in 2011

In addition, the application allowed you to use its VOIP service (or configure another that you had contracted separately) to do Internet calls to landlines free or very cheap, depending on current promotions.

What has become of Fring?

Fringandroid2011 Fring on Android in 2011

As we mentioned before, Fring was born before Android, in 2006, although it did not take long to reach the green robot operating system: it landed on Android Market in 2009. It is a pioneering application that, as such, was collecting some medals in its early days: first VOIP calls on iPhone, first video calls on iPhone, first video calls on Android and first group video calls.

In the field of messaging, the amount of services available to chat in Fring were mutating Over time, for example, Microsoft announced the closure of Messenger in 2012. In addition, over time many messaging applications went from having an open protocol, with the possibility of using different clients, to closed. For example, in 2011 Skype forced them to withdraw connectivity to its service under threat of legal action.

Fring arrived first, but WhatsApp, FaceTime, Hangouts and the rest of the messaging apps passed him by

Everything seemed to be going smoothly for Fring in the early years of Android, but then the app did the worst it could do: stand idly by. With the rise like foam in the popularity of WhatsApp and the decline in popularity of desktop messaging apps, Fring’s multi-messaging app feature was losing weight.

The same was true of video calls, especially after the arrival of FaceTime to the iPhone and the Hangouts video calls on Android, in addition to the growing list of alternative apps like Skype or Viber (although video calls did not reach Viber until 2014). Fring was the first in many respects, but they passed him on the right.

Fring2014 Appearance of the latest version of Fring

On Android, Fring it continued updating from its launch in 2009 to 2013, around ten annual updates, although the application did not present many changes, apart from renewing -a little- its appearance. The same group video calls and chat from 2009 were those that were available in 2013.

In recent years, Fring has been trying to turn its service to attract companies and users as an alternative to RCS that had not finished taking off, but it should not have paid off. in January 2017 they announced the closure of the service for a month later. The application was withdrawn from Google Play that same year, although if you downloaded it back then you can still check its file here, fossilized.

Does it still make sense today?

Trillian Other similar apps, like Trillian, have also had to readjust their approach and have hardly any integrations with third-party networks

Fring was ultimately a communication application, which is still as fashionable today as it was in its heyday, but with one fundamental difference. Fring in its early days was based on connecting to the service of others, while messaging apps today start from their own infrastructure. The latest versions of Fring were betting on his network, although by then it was already almost forgotten.

Unfortunately, “connecting to the service of others” is today more difficult than ever, since most of these services have their doors closed to third parties. Although from time to time the idea of ​​a messaging app reappears to bring them all together, it does so less and less strongly: users crowd into the millions in a couple of apps, and it is easier to install both on the mobile to find an app that allows you to chat with both at the same time. In addition, apps are very complex nowadays, allowing much more than simply sending text, so an app with these characteristics would come with many concessions.

In this situation, the concept of an app to chat with many chat networks doesn’t seem to make much sense nowadays, except if we are talking about official integrations like those prepared by Facebook with its own apps. Fring solved a problem back in 2010 that, luckily or unfortunately, does not exist or does not exist as much today.


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Apps you freaked out with back in the day: Fring

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Xataka Android

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Ivan Ramirez

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