Download of the Week: Fishbowl


Well, there you have it--someone's gone and made a desktop client for interacting with Facebook. It sounds a little lame at first glance. Facebook, after all, works quite well across a number of desktop and portable devices. Since you need an internet connection to make any kind of use of the service, be it in a separate client or through the usual Web-based format, what's stopping one from simply eschewing any kind of downloaded application and going straight to Facebook-dot-com itself?

For what it's worth, the Fishbowl application does make for an interesting new way to interact with Facebook as a whole. There's no additional functionality beyond what you would otherwise find at the site. However, I do enjoy the application's looks--an emphasis is really placed on delivering large images next to updates, and you can quickly access any part of the Facebook service through easy-to-toggle navigation buttons. Using the Fishbowl app to interact with Facebook does feel a wee bit faster than surfing Facebook through a browser. I'm curious to see how the application deals with Facebook's frequent hiccups in service, but that (fortunately) hasn't happened yet in my fiddling with the application.

One unique feature of the application (okay, I lied earlier about new features) is its ability to set personalized interest levels for all of your friends. You can then sort your friends list by said interest levels, which gives you a way to quickly scan for updates related to people you're actually friends with. Were there only a way to batch-process your friends--as it stands, setting the interest level for a typical Facebook user's account is going to be quite a long afternoon, depending on how many friends one has.

To its credit, Fishbowl does a great job of displaying photos that your friends have uploaded. You get a thumbnail view akin to Windows folders, where the pictures in a particular group make up a part of the icon of said group in the Fishbowl client. You also get a wealth more picture groups to see at once, versus Facebook's ever-constant 20-group limit per page.

Since the app is still in beta, the bugs and kinks haven't been worked out yet. However, depending on how much it lets users customize the skin of Fishbowl itself, I can see a lot of potential for a desktop client that actually rivals the look of Facebook itself. Stay tuned--you might never surf again!

Every Wednesday, Maximum PC picks a new free or shareware download as its favorite of the week. Have a nifty application that you can't live without? Twitter David Murphy @acererak with your latest suggestions.

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