App Review: QuickChat for Facebook 5
Despite deep Synergy integration between webOS and Facebook in the Contacts, Calendar, Photos and Videos apps, we have yet to see Facebook Chat make its way to the Messaging app without the benefit of any homebrew assistance. Although there are a few instant messaging apps in the App Catalog that includes Facebook Chat, none have the ease and simplicity of QuickChat for Facebook, by pcworldSoftware, nor are any of them built using Enyo to support both the small screens of webOS phones and the larger real estate of the TouchPad. For $2.99 (on sale, normally $3.99), QuickChat for Facebook is available for any webOS device running webOS 2.1 or higher and brings you a dedicated Facebook Chat app that does its best to mimic the stock Messaging app of the TouchPad. Upon launching the app the first thing you must do is log in to Facebook. On the TouchPad, you are then brought to a very familiar looking scene with a panel on the left that allows you to toggle between your online friends or your conversation history, and a larger pane on the right that houses your conversation. On phones, you just view that left-pane by default, and the conversation pane will slide in Enyo-style once you tap on a buddy or a conversation.
As long as the app is open (unfortunately, this is a webOS limitation), it will receive any chats or messages received in Facebook in real-time and even has push notifications to alert you if the app is not the active one. If you know how to use the Messaging App for IM or SMS messages, you will be right at home in this app. It works really well and adds a much-needed piece of Synergy to webOS, although there are a few limitation with how Facebook Chat works with the app, mainly due to the available APIs from Facebook.
- Missing conversation history -- While your Facebook chat history will be loaded into the app once you log in, some conversations may be missing. The developer and I troubleshooted this in detail and determined it was actually a Facebook issue and nothing the app had any control over. As a result, this may also cause some conversation history to be lost when you relaunch the app in the future. However, that conversation will still be available on the Facebook website or the webOS Facebook app.
- Group chats or messages are not available -- Due to Facebook API limitations, you are only able to send/receive messages/chats from individuals, and the conversation history of multi-person chats or messages will not be shown in the app. If you need to send a group-message, you will need to launch the webOS Facebook app to access this.
- Other known issues -- The Developer has a "Known issues" page in the help section of the app that also documents some other issues, such as an occasional disconnect from the Facebook servers or profile pictures missing or not being updated. Once again, these are either Facebook or webOS restrictions, but the developer has work arounds for these built in minimize the impact on your user experience.
With all of these issues or limitations, you may be wondering why you shouldn't just use the messaging section of the Facebook apps for your phone or TouchPad or the web browser itself. The biggest reason for me is the real-time messaging and push notifications built into the app. If you rarely use the chat or messaging features of Facebook, this is proably not for you]. But if you send a lot of messages or even just occasionally Facebook Chat, then you should consider this app. And best of all, a single purchase will allow you to download the app on both your phone and TouchPad (as long as they are on the same webOS profile).