Yup! its finaaaaaaaaaally here. After a really long wait, Ovi Chat for Symbian^3 devices has made its way to the public release.
Most of us expected otherwise, and it’s surprising to see that Ovi Chat has made its way through the Ovi Store and not from Nokia Betalabs first, just as how it has always been, since a while. This shows that the client was ready much before the release daye but didn’t go public for some reasons, little known to you and me. (maybe the Yahoo! deal or something else).
The installation will not only bring the app to your Symbian device, but will also include a very productive home screen widget as well. A widget that can set your status, show you unread chat messages in short and the take care of all the services registered. Check out the above screenshots to see how it shows the last unread chat with time stamp as well. Neat.
Also interesting to see the widget and drop down menu for changing the status. I think its the first widget of its kind on Symbian^3. Either its a new feature or a clever use of existing API that other developers failed to do yet. Hope @janole might have noticed this 😉
Though it’s still a WRT based app (just like other official Ovi Apps), I’ve started liking the unification of startup screen and somehow, it brings out a signature look of all the services as being offered by Ovi now.
It was personally much lovely to see MSN, Ovi, Gtalk, Yahoo and even MySpace included in the list of IM services after checking out the early comments like these .
“Ovi Chat no longer allows you to add Gmail contacts because we no longer support XMPP after the move to Yahoo!,”
For the first time, we find ourselves happy that Nokia retracted their statement (though I am not sure if the above comment was an official one). Wish they include Facebook Chat as well, hopefully. Nokia once even commented about attachment sending and video chatting features on Ovi Chat! Hope the magic will begin soon.
As brought in attention by @aas, one needs to have Nokia Messaging Subscription for starting with IM, though if your device already has it, then it doesn’t show up (like my case).
It’s not easy to imagine a UI on a resolution and aspect ratio like that of Symbian^3’s and I was little skeptical if they come up with a UI like Nimbuzz or Fring. No offence to either, both of them have a great UI design but somehow, I wished to have something sleeker like the desktop version of Gtalk or even the E-Series versions of Ovi Chat. As you can see, the people at Nokia have lived up to our expectations.
Still I have complaints about the kinetic scroll and a kind of lag when you add a contact (due to multi-level integration across the whole operating system), but its a step in right direction.
Look at the redesigned in-app battery/ network icons (which include animations as well) and time notifications. When you see the technical aspects of work behind all these efforts, you can’t help yourself but the praise the guys at Ovi. Services as tabs, conversations preview, colored status notification and even avatars are seen and they altogether contribute to a complete experience.
I’ve added a couple of pictures here and they should help you see how easily one can change his avatar via the app and also view the contact info in details (though I still feel that there is still some work to do in this section as Devices show up as Computers only). You can create new phone contacts from your chat buddies or even add chat buddies to existing contacts.
Wanna see how to link contacts? There are many ways to do the same but the easiest one goes this way:
And the end result? Finally, finally I got what I wished from day one. Chat icon shown up in the contacts list itself, against his or her name! Just what I’ve been wishing for since my experience with the Integrated IM on the N900.
Though, it’s to be noted that tapping or tapping and holding on the contact list will not take you directly to chat but tapping the contact once and then selecting chat from the details which pop up will.
I also observed that the contact details now contain fields for the Yahoo/ Ovi/ Google (As many services you configure in chat) and if you fill them with corresponding the IDs, then it automatically gets connected to chat.
So, while its interesting and effective, the fact that there is no intelligent contact linking like Socially or even Nokia Social app, is kind of big surprise. Though automatic linking not been accurate to me due to confusing names, but still that would have been a great aid. Hope Nokia developers are working on it and may be they will make use of their own Nokia Social App infra for the same in very near future.
As you can see, apart from the Chat widget, the integration goes much deeper and we find notification sounds, SMS like notifications as shown above and also a small chat icon near the battery/ connection notification area. Nokia definitely tried to bring the Nokia N900 like integration back here.
Settings are simple and options are sufficient for a decent chat experience.
You really jump in joy, when you find that the chat experience is well aided with smileys, etc and all of them in the easiest accessible way possible.
There are short templates as well that will come very handy at times. Though as of now, if I am right, we don’t have options like audio chat/ video chat etc, but that should definitely be coming soon.
We really criticized Nokia really hard on leaving Symbian^3 behind when it comes to chat app and I must say they have come back very strongly. An integration like this is enough to silence the complaints. Only if they would add a split portrait qwerty very soon, (Included in PR2.0) many complaints of Symbian users will just vanish.
What do you say?