Since its launch in the summer of 2008, Facebook Chat has been growing steadily in popularity, quickly taking on the likes of AIM, Yahoo and Windows Live Messenger. Everything about Facebook has been built around transparency, and their instant messenger network is no different. Ditching the usual web of cryptic user names and e-mail addresses, Facebook has instead opted to have everyone identify themselves by their (presumably) real name.
Single-handedly, this has elevated Facebook Chat instant messaging above just about all of its competitors, as you can tell instantaneously who it is that you’re talking to… rather than having to dredge your mind trying to remember who punk_chick1987 might be.
The service has caught on at a breakneck pace. In June of 2009, just a single year after its launch, Facebook boasted that they were already sending over 1 billion messages each and every day. That’s more than 11 500 messages per second. They’ve taken over an enormous portion of their competitors’ market share, with Facebook Chat now accounting for as much as 56% of all live chat events. Even the White House uses it to communicate with the public.
The Facebook Chat Flaw
However, for all the benefits that their service offers, it must be kept in mind that Facebook Chat was designed primarily to keep users on the site for longer periods of time. As such, the original Facebook Chat messenger is embedded into the site, rather than being an executable program such as Windows Live Messenger. The instant you navigate away from the Facebook site, you are also logged out from the chat client – meaning that you have no choice but to keep the site open, lest you accidentally ditch all your conversations at the click of a button.
Chit Chat on Facebook from desktop
There is a way to have (most of) the best of both worlds, however. A new desktop Facebook Instant Messenger called Chit Chat for Facebook allows you to access the Facebook Chat network, but without requiring you to log into the site. It opens in its own dedicated window, like most traditional messengers, meaning that you don’t have to keep the Facebook site open – or better yet, you need not worry about losing your conversations if your web browser crashes. The service already has over 120 000 users, even though it’s barely been six months since its launch. An impressive debut, no doubt.
The Facebook Chat application, Chit Chat for Facebook, also has several other notable advantages that distinguish it from the original Facebook Chat messenger. For one, you get instant notification when you get incoming messages. Even if you’re exploring something in another window, you’ll know you’ve got a new message waiting for you. It also records your message history, so that you can pick up a conversation right where you left off.
No more games of “Who Said What?”; you can quickly check to see what your friends said last time you talked. As well, the program allows you to more easily format your messages. It could be more than a little confusing, at times, to figure out how to create the various emoticons in the original Facebook Chat messenger – which is a bit of a head scratcher, given their overwhelming and arguably necessary prevalence.
Another handy feature is the tabbed messaging window, which means that you don’t have to have a separate window for each conversation – something which can really feel quite liberating when you’re used to having a dozen different chat windows open, all begging for your attention. Now, all your friends are in one place, just a single click away.
Chit Chat for Facebook also reprieves you from the chore of constantly refreshing your friends list to see who’s available to chat. It can be quite frustrating to message someone, only to realize five minutes later that they’d logged off before you even noticed they were online. Chit Chat automatically updates the “Available” list for you, so you know down to the second who’s online and who isn’t.
While the service has many selling points, there are a few drawbacks, minor as they may be. Most notable is the absence of webcam / video chat. Long a mainstay of instant messaging, video chat is the one thing that could possibly leave one clinging to the outdated platforms of Windows Live, Yahoo, and AIM. To be fair, video chat is simply not available on the Facebook network, so we can’t really hold it against the developers of Chit Chat for Facebook. As well, the program can be a little buggy – but I’ve never come across an instant messaging tool that doesn’t have the occasional hiccup.
All in all, Chit Chat for Facebook opens a lot of doors for those who appreciate the transparent nature of Facebook, but don’t like to be shackled to their web browser. It presents an interesting cross between the formats of Facebook and Windows Live / AIM, which will certainly strike a chord with many users.
This is guest post by Chit Chat for Facebook team. You can also share your tips, tricks, expertise and write Guest article on Techno Life @ tothepc.