As crazy as this sounds, I still have friends who don’t have a cell phone. Those same friends, believe it or not, all have a laptop, desktop, or iPod Touch (since Android is seriously lacking in an alternative at the moment) which they use to stay glued to Facebook. So if I can’t easily text or call them, what am I supposed to do? Facebook has a chat client built right in for their Android client! Theoretically, I can transition from my laptop to my phone and continue a conversation in real time — but there’s a problem. the Facebook chat that is cooked into the app is terrible. Absolutely terrible. It has never worked properly for me, therefore, would never work as a solid line of communication for anyone on Facebook (whether they have a cell phone or not). I miss messages, auto sign-out, and the UI is less than ideal. Fortunately, there is an alternative.
I began my quest for a Facebook chat client by simply searching “Facebook chat” on the Android Market. The first app that popped up was Go!Chat. Now I have tried other clients after my initial use of Go!, but I always found my way back. Why? It works better than any other client I’ve tried. Plain and simple.
When you first start up Go!Chat for Facebook, you have to agree to some terms, and then login. A Facebook authentication box will pop-up, and once filled out, you’re good to go. A list of all your friends will appear in an alphabetical list, with your active friends on the top, and your idle friends near the bottom. You can long press any name and choose to add as a favorite, view profile, change alias, ignore, or mute. If you just touch on a name normally, a chat will open. If you have any chats open, then those will appear above everything else in an “Open Chats” list. From inside a chat, you can do several things.
Not only can you send text back and fourth, but by using a small arrow that opens a drop-down menu, you can send a picture, add a smiley, send an audio message, upload a picture, record a video, or mark that person as a favorite.
By pressing the actual menu key on your device, you can close the chat, clear the chat, add a smiley, send your location, ignore the user, or share the conversation. Shared conversations appear in a simple “Me: Hi. User: Hi.” format for easy reading.
As for options, there are plenty enough to customize Go!Chat for Facebook any way you’d like.
General settings include message notifications and a “log in at phone boot” box.
Group settings allow you to turn on/off show open chats and show favorites in the online friends list.
If you do favorite someone, you can choose to see if you are notified when those users go online or offline, and in a widget setting further down change whether or not the widget notifies you.
You can totally customize notifications (light, vibrate, ringtone).
Thumbnail pictures can be turned off in the chat window, along with being able to change the font size, number of input lines, and autocaps.
And finally, you can use the preferences menu to manage logs, aliases, favorites, and the cache.
The only problem I have with the added chat functions is the way the default favorite settings work. Not only will your contact appear in your original online list as an open chat, when said contact is online and you have an open chat, but they will appear as a favorite. It’s rather annoying when you have duplicate contacts littering the online list.
And then there’s the price. I’ve definitely used the $4.32 I’ve put into Go! since purchased, but the price still seems a little on the expensive side. Sure, it gets ride of ads and unlocks some ignore and mute functions, but nonetheless.
Other than that, everything works great. I’ve never missed a message, and have rarely been signed out. Usually, it has only happened in wonky data area where I may losy reception for a brief moment.
If you use Facebook chat on a regular basis, you have got to give Go!Chat for Facebook a shot. Compared to the official alternative, it’s absolutely amazing.