The stock instant messenger that comes with most builds of android is great – it does exactly what it’s intended for and does it well, albeit with very few frills. There have been a few little gripes I’ve had with it, like troubles transmitting photos, and having to switch back and forth to the main screen to chat to more than one person.
Trillian for Android solves all of those, along with adding multi-protocol & multi-account support and a rather sexy looking interface that builds in tabbed chats to boot.
Better-known as a desktop client that first hit the scene back in 2000 (which was just as a freeware IRC client), Trillian quickly evolved into one of the better alternatives for Microsoft’s MSN Messenger by adding multi-protocol support, email and more recently social network support.
Creators Cerulean Studios took the plunge into the mobile market with their iPhone messenger in November 2009, and at the time confirmed development of the Blackberry & Android versions, and happily the latter has hit a public beta stage.
Ease Of Use
Firstly to use Trillian you need to be running Android 1.6 at least, so thankfully there’s very few that are unable to use it. All you need to do is download the .apk from the beta website, and install like any other non-market app. After that, the initial setup is very easy.
The first step is either signing into, or setting up your Trillian login – after that you get into the basic menu for the app, showing the current networks you’re signed into, which will initially just be “Astra”. A quick tap of the menu key will display the Add Account account option, along with Disconnect All.
Just select your protocol of choice, and enter the authentication details. As far as the social network side of things goes, Facebook chat is available in the android version, but at the moment Twitter, Skype & IRC aren’t supported. The other currently supported protocols include: AIM, Yahoo!, ICQ, Windows Live (MSN), MySpaceIM, Google Talk & Jabber/XMPP.
For Trillian’s looks, basic is beautiful & incredibly functional. The buddylist is easy to navigate, and any currently active chats are grouped together at the top (which you can see above).
The profile bar at the top shows which protocols you’re currently using, and tapping that bar opens up the status update screen giving you the ability to go Online, Away or Invisible (the Invisible option often doesn’t work in other messengers, but works like a dream here) and add a personal message.
You’ll also see my primary reason for loving Trillian – tabbed chat. This is an absolute godsend, and negates the need to go back to the main buddylist to see who is talking to you or to switch to that chat window.
Once you’re chatting everything looks quite normal – with a tap of the little smiley face you get an emoticon list, and with a tap of the menu key you get the option to send a photo… which is surprisingly fast. Trillian uses a facility not unlike bit.ly or TinyURL to transmit the image… the picture I sent below was given this link.
It’s the little things that make Trillian a contender for the best IM client on Android – like having push notifications of chat to your email address, cloud buddylist synchronisation with the desktop client, and the always extremely useful landscape mode. There are also options to keep Wifi connected & use a battery-saving mode by slowing down server polling.
Overall I’m enjoying Trillian a lot compared to other messenger apps, and although there are bound to be a few hiccups here & there as the development comes along, I’m confident that Cerulean Studios are going to have a great product by the end of their testing. If you’re happy to test unfinished software, I’d urge you to give Trillian a look. I say unfinished – Cerulean could release it in the Market today, and it would still stand up again most other messenger apps available.
Rate & Download: Trillian (beta)