Fring updates Android client and disappoints users

Fring, a multi way mobile video chat service, updated its Android client today in Google Play yesterday and has users screaming. The main change was a new authentication procedure from username/password combination to an actual mobile phone number authentication. This means multiple device installations were broken and people need your phone number to connect.  From their updated listing in Google Play we find

Description

VOIP, video, chat, call, group, IM, free, free calls, cheap, voice, SIP, dialerFree Calls and Group Calls: Voice, Video & Texting

** New! Phone number registration instead of username /password **

While many immediately started dropping reviews in the Google Play store to one star, others made an excellent point of privacy and usability.  Here are some samples from the User Reviews section:

  • Sorry for now. I’m going to use other voice call services after 3 years of my fring usages. I was loved it.
  • I don’t feel comfortable linking my phone number. No longer going to use Fringe.
  • Bad update. I prefer having a real username and password to having this linked to my number. I have multiple devices and now I can’t use this. Revert please!
  • Waiting for friends to update in order to communicate with them? Isn’t that a bit heavy-handed?
  • Just 8 months back I rated this app 5 star and gave excellent comments.Everything changed now after this latest update. The app is not the same anymore.

 

Even I previously reviewed Fring and sang praises about the quality of the multi-way chat on a mobile device and even posted a screenshot of the reviving TheSocialGeeks podcast crew as shown in the image on the right.

While the quality of the service remains the same in this update, the ability to interact with your contacts has greatly changed. You must wait for users to upgrade, contacts automatically sync from your phone with the new permissions and some have lost contacts all together.  A few users are reporting issues with their phones or even getting it to uninstall.

They have also apparently raised the requirement that you have a minimum balance in your paid account to use the SIP features.  A new $3 minimum has been enforced where users could previously carry just enough credit to make land line type calls with Fring. I can understand how they want to simplify credit management, much like Skype does, but it seems that users that has money cannot use it unless they add more.

Anthony Farrior (Wild5tar on Twitter) has made a quick YouTube video showing exactly how his new interface changed.  He does not see the video interaction at all.  Here is what I found after playing with it forever.

  • The registration system was broken.  You could not get a confirmation or it gave errors.
  • The system for using your phone number removes multiple device support and changes privacy for the application
  • Until it syncs your contacts, the options for many of the features like video calling are not available to you
  • If the user has not updated to the new version the video is not available.

I went to the Fring blog and found no mention of the update, issues or communication from the team there.  I then headed to Fring support and managed to find a new video they did a few days ago showing how registration now works.

They show the input of your phone number and the SMS you must receive.  It also sees the previous install and then migrates your existing contact list over. Some users above are stating it is also syncing and sending them back to Fring each time the app starts.

I would personally hold off from updating to this release until some fixes can be applied and we get some more answers from the Fring team.

  • http://TheSocialNetworker.com IdoNotes

    I received this nice email from Fring….

    Hi Chris
    We saw your blog post and tried to leave this comment, but received a server-error notice when trying to submit the comment.

    Is the blog post fixed, or would you like to post this on our behalf.

    Thanks for your feedback Chris. fring has moved to a new, near-telco grade platform that is better, faster and simpler for our users. We realize there are glitches and bugs moving such a large customer base to a new platform. We appreciate the feedback and are working around the clock to fix bugs and provide our users with better service. Regarding the minimum SIP charge – after several years of providing free support of other SIP services, fring is centralizing all SIP service via fringOut which enables us to provide better rates, better service, & better support. We value each and every user, and are sure that once we fix these issues, they will be happy fring users again. Ben Horesh – Director of Product, fring (benh@fring.com)

  • http://areyouanandroid.com/ Anthony Farrior

    Hmmm they mention nothing about the wonderful Instant messaging service they provided…

  • Roy

    My fringout credit is lost after the upgrade. Dont upgrade or yours may also.
    The manual merge process is crap never worked

  • http://TheSocialNetworker.com IdoNotes

    Excellent point I am seeing many make. The loss of credit they had

  • Former Fring user

    Dear Ben,

    Please take the palm of your right hand and slap it against your forehead. Why? Because you are losing existing customers and making them flee to your competition after your new Fring upgrade. For me, a tablet user who for 2 years used FringOut to make phone calls on a non-telephone tablet device, I’m totally locked out now and unable to use FringOut on my tablet. Why? Because of this one new “faster and simpler” feature:

    — snip 8< —

    a faster and simplified registration process (via phone number – instead of userID / passwords)

    — snip 8< —

    The problem, Ben, is that tablets do not receive incoming phone calls, and many do not have SMS, so there is absolutely no way for tablet users to use the new Fring in such cases.

    Background: I had used FringOut for many months on my Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet, and then your Android app stopped making successful land line calls. So I upgraded to your new version, only to discover that I had to go through a new registration procedure (even though you are sitting on a wad of my cash because I had already paid you in advance to use FringOut nearly 2 years ago). But since I have an Android TABLET, not a cell phone, I cannot receive your verification phone call or SMS message in order to confirm my identity (for the second time).

    I've sent numerous online tech support requests and they have gone unanswered.

    So great going Ben! My hat is off to you and your "think ahead" staff of programmers for breaking something that used to work fine. I've moved over to your competition, RebTel and Tablet Calling. At least they respond to tech support messages.

  • http://TheSocialNetworker.com IdoNotes

    Thanks for seeing the post. I will make sure I send him your comment link!

  • akaash

    I agree with you about new fring upgrade.i have been using fring and fring out for two years.after upgrading this i lost my old fring friend who has not upgraded and also doesn’t support old nokia phone model so some of my friend cannot upgrade.I am going to switch to new app.

  • http://TheSocialNetworker.com IdoNotes

    Thanks for the update. You are not alone and they are hearing us

  • rameshwar

    Fring is finished for me. Its over. Bye bye fring!

  • FringsNoMore

    Updated to new Fring, FringOut calls work just great, but Free Fring calls don’t work at all most of the time, don’t know when friends are online and when they are they don’t get calls and can’t call, and messages come ten minutes after sending them. No reply from customer support either. Got activitation code after installing and uninstalling many times, but didn’t need to put it anywhere?
    How can I get previous fring version back to android?

  • http://TheSocialNetworker.com IdoNotes

    You can try looking in the Play Store for older versions or sideload via an online download

  • Disappointed Fring user

    This seems very disappointing, especially since I’ve been using it on my Symbian device (Nokia N8). It was the only app I could find which supported video calling, so it was perfect for doing that with family on the other side of the world. Haven’t had the need to use it for a while, but since holidays are coming up I’m a big shocked to read this was changed. Also wanted to install it on my new Nexus, but that is not possible because you will need a phone number. It’s a shame…will start using Skype instead, no more Fring for me.

  • Vannly

    Fring committed a suicide >_< even me now I switched to Rebtel.

  • http://TheSocialNetworker.com IdoNotes

    And the complaints keep coming

  • abc

    Fu#k.. i had money on my fringout account. it looks like i lost it now?!

  • Parmbir

    How can we get previous balance ????

  • http://TheSocialNetworker.com IdoNotes

    No one seems to know that answer. The only way to access it seems to be to charge up to the minimum level

  • Parmbir

    Hii there actully I was have previous account there was have previous balance now canno able to access that account user name is parmbirsingh1

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  • Mak

    worst worst worst worst new fring version is worst of worst not working at all
    always showing registration attempt limit exceeds ……..