, a new iPhone application by the Crisp App developers, promises to bring the ultimate Facebook Chat experience to iOS. The app, unlike several alternatives that use Facebook Chat to let you communicate with your friends in a native iPhone interface, doesn’t only provide a clean design for chat, conversation views and photo attachments, it also lets you receive and place free VoIP calls through Facebook. That’s right: Facebook Messenger leverages the Facebook contact list to allow you to call your friends, for free, over the Internet.
Once logged in with your Facebook account and granted permissions to the app to access your contacts and Facebook information, you’ll be presented a list of all your online and offline friends. The app lets you group contacts in the settings and, if you want, set an expiration time to log out and stop receiving push notifications for incoming chats. A single swipe on the main screen makes you switch back and forth between the contact list and the conversation window, which collects all your private chats stacked on top of each other. Tap on a contact, and you’ll be brought to another screen where you can initiate a normal chat session or place a VoIP call. Tapping on a button in the upper right corner allows you to send a photo from the camera roll, take a new one, start a call or close the chat altogether. While in chat mode, swiping with your finger horizontally lets you switch between single chats with a card-like interface. The design, like I said, is very clean and elegant — perhaps the best looking one I’ve ever seen in a mobile Facebook app.
As for VoIP, the developers have implemented a server backend to establish and route calls, which happen through Facebook but aren’t exactly “Facebook calls”. Once you initiate a call, in fact, the recipient will get a link in his chat that, once followed, will get him to a Flash-based webpage with the VoIP interface. The obvious downside is that if your friend isn’t using a computer or doesn’t have a mobile device with Flash he won’t be able to pick up the call. If you’re using your iPhone, however, and you know your friend is at home with a browser that’s got Flash — you’ll be able to place calls for free using Facebook Messenger. Watch the video below for a demonstration.
Facebook Messenger is available at $2.99 in the App Store. The VoIP service might be a little unreliable in these first days of availability, but the developers told us they’ll be ready to handle traffic just fine as more people start using the app. Facebook Messenger comes with a nice design, cool features embedded in the standard chat view, push notifications. Give it a try.