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Review: Ember

April 19, 2009


Finally, the ability to stay connected to Campfire at anytime has arrived in the App Store! Ember, a Campfire client, allows its users to chat easily in large or small groups right from your IPhone. Although not without a few issues, Ember is major step in the right direction for those of us using Campfire as our main instant messenger service.


Ember is loaded with almost everything you have available from the desktop versions of Campfire...almost. There's live previews of images that you can directly access from within the chat room. Inline viewing of multiple file formats such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc. The ability to not only have unlimited chat rooms, but you also have the option to seamlessly toggle between each one of these chat rooms with very little effort. It works with free and paid Campfire accounts and SSL accounts are supported here as well.


The Good:

typing-chatCampfire on the go! Nuff said! Okay, maybe I'll say a little bit more here, but that about sums it up right there. You can chat on the go with anyone in Campfire whenever and wherever you want. I tested Ember on a computer and on the IPhone simultaneously and the application on the phone was pretty close to the response time on the desktop computer I was on. The phone, or application, does lag for a few seconds sometimes, (I was using WiFi the entire time by the way) but not enough to really cause any major issues. Being able to sign in once and always be signed in was a major plus for me as well. I know some people have issues with the application leaving you signed in, but if you're that worried about security on your phone just lock it with a password at start up. For me, not having to re-sign in was great. Bouncing between one chat room and another is fairly quick and extremely easy. Being able to view different file formats is also a major bonus.

The Bad:

settingsThe major issue I have with this application is the lack of sound when someone writes a new message. The app does have sound and vibration that alert you when another chat room that you are not in has a new message, but the current room you are in doesn't alert you at all. It gets kind of frustrating to constantly have to look at the screen and see if anyone has sent anything new. If you are like me, you are multi-tasking and have a bunch of things going on at once. Without a sound or vibration alert, it can get tedious after a while. However, with that said I have been in touch with the developers of Ember and they are working on addressing this issue in a future update. So it might be a little annoying for now, but they're fixing it so be patient. Not being able to upload any files is another issue, although that lies more with the phone's capabilities than the app itself. Still, it's an issue all the same. An update is coming that will allow you to at least upload images from the phone, but for now that's about it. Maybe when the new 3.0 comes out that might change? Maybe not...

The Verdict

If you're like me and use Campfire on a day-to-day basis to stay in contact with your fellow employees/co-workers concerning work related issues or whatever, then this app is a must have...hands down. However, if you use this more for socializing and it's just another messenger service you use to stay in touch with friends, that steep $9.99 might not be worth it. Especially with so many free social networking applications out there. For ten bucks you really need to ask yourself this: Do I need this application? Is it something that I will use everyday? If the answer is yes, then it absolutely should be on your device. If the answer to those questions is no...I say go with any one of the numerous other free social networking apps out there instead.

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