In a very European moment the other day, I spent the entire ride down to my in-laws on the AVE bullet train here in Spain going over 200kph chatting to everyone in the #mobitopia chat and #joiito on the amazing Mobilways Wireless IRC client for my Nokia 3650. Very neat.
How amazing is it? REALLY amazing. Once all the chat apps on telephones get *this* good, you can kiss SMS and MMS goodbye. It's more full featured than the client I was using on my PC. I can connect to multiple rooms each on their own UI tab, have private chats on their own tab, send and recieve files (!!!), and if I decide to go do something else on my phone, a small well design balooon will pop up in the top right and tell me which chat just had some activity.
It's incredibly robust, shown by the fact that I've both gotten an SMS and received a quick telephone call in the middle of a chat (both cutting off GPRS) and it recovered seamlessly. You can also make all the screens "full screen" which is nice. The file browser (for sharing) includes a preview for pictures which is better than the thumbnailer included with the phone. And last but not least, while you're chatting, both the number of kilobytes used and time spent is displayed for you to monitor what's going on. In places where GPRS is really expensive, this is a great feature - but even though IRC can be verbose, I rarely went above the 50kb data transfer mark while using the chat unless I transfered files. Considering that the photos I take on "high quality" are around 65kb apiece, this isn't bad at all. And the images above don't do it justice. It's a very clean app when you're using it. Once you sign on and maximize the screen, all the clutter goes away.
The devil is always in the details - especially for mobile stuff, but I give this app two thumbs up there as well. It has all these things that I'm just discovering, and a level of attention that I've never seen before on a mobile app. For example, there's a 10 message buffer, so you can go back to messages you've sent recently. This is really great if you're saying hello or goodbye in several chatrooms at once. Also, once you join a chatroom, it's automatically saved to the menu so you don't have to type it in again in your next session. Also it prompts you for sign off messages, and more. That sort of attention to detail is just really nice.
It's an insanely well done app and I gladly ponied up the $9.95 it cost on Handango for it within minutes of using it. I'm telling you - there's not a nicer experience in mobile chat yet that I've found. Thanks to Pete for pointing it out to me!
Personally, I can't figure out why this is limited to IRC!! I just recently got back into IRCing because of Joi's post about his chat room, but before that I think I just ignored it because, well, who uses IRC anymore? If this developer made a Jabber client they'd have a major hit on their hands. I really hope they do something about it, because it's just a great app.
Beyond that, I just wanted to say that spending a few hours chatting in a big chat room via your phone is really fun. The time flies. T9 lets you participate like you were there and for those who want them, you can upload live pics, video or files to others in the chatroom as well. I can't tell you how enjoyable it is to use this app. I can't wait until more people have it and that apps like this are more common place.