The upcoming version 3.0 of the Trillian instant messaging application will incorporate video and audio chat, enhanced session logs and integration with the Wikipedia online encyclopedia.
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Cerulean Studios designed Trillian to consolidate in a single interface contacts from a variety of instant messaging services, such as Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger. Because most instant messaging services don't interoperate, users have to log on separately to each network to communicate with its members. While Trillian doesn't solve the interoperability problem, users don't have to keep a buddy-list interface open for each network.
Video chat in version 3.0 will include picture-in-picture mode, full-screen mode and side-by-side video windows. Emotiblips - the audio/video equivalent of emoticons - will allow audio and video clips to be shared in real-time during an instant messaging session. Also new are video filters such as greyscale, sepia and pixellation, which allow users to customise their video streaming look and mood.
Audio chats will allow users to make audio calls from Trillian to users on different networks. There will be a volume control interface, including a mute button, audio recording and playback, and support for Yahoo Chatrooms for audio conferencing.
Enhanced session logging offers a new timeline view that lists all instant messaging conversations by date and time, as well as duration. Users will also be able to bookmark important moments within conversations and search through archived conversations by keyword, date or type.
An Instant Lookup feature underlines on-the-fly terms that appear in instant messaging conversations and have an entry in the Wikipedia. Hovering over the word or phrase pops up a brief summary of it, and clicking on it gives further options. Trillian 3.0 supports launching a web search for a word or phrase by right-clicking on it directly from the chat window.
Changes to the interface layout are aimed at making it tidier and more intuitive.
The fee-based Trillian Pro 3.0 will contain all these features, while the free Trillian Basic 3.0 will offer some of the features.
Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research, said the enhancements pointed to an attempt by Cerulean to push Trillian more towards business users. "I wouldn't call Trillian a true enterprise-grade product, but it's certainly pushing towards that."
According to Osterman, Trillian's greatest weakness has traditionally been that when an instant messaging service provider makes a protocol change in its network, it can cut off Trillian's connectivity to that network. "Restoring the link is not a continual problem for Cerulean, but it's a difficulty," he said.
Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service